Based on Philip Pullman’s fantasy books that kicked off with The Golden Compass in 1995, HBO’s His Dark Materials TV series will expand on the source material on its journey from page to screen. One of those ways is in tapping the deeper mythology at play in Pullman’s latest trilogy, The Book of Dust.
Jane Tranter, the series’ lead executive producer, refrained to reveal specifics, but she told EW ahead of the fantasy drama’s premiere this fall, “We use a tiny bit, which I can’t tell you. You’ll have to wait and see. As far as the deeper mythology is concerned, we grab at anything we can get. As [teleplay writer] Jack Thorne would say, it’s like we’ve done a PhD in the mythology of these books.”
The eight-episode first season of His Dark Materials, which premieres Nov. 4 on HBO, adapts the events of The Golden Compass. In a reality that exists parallel to our own world, young orphan Lyra Belacqua (Logan’s Dafne Keen) continues her rebellious streak at her home of Jordan College until she haphazardly foils an assassination plot against her explorer uncle, Lord Asriel (It Chapter Two‘s James McAvoy), when he comes to present his recent, potentially blasphemous findings to the university. It’s the first in a series of mysterious events that propel Lyra on an international journey, followed by a string of child kidnappings, the disappearance of her friend, and the arrival of the enthralling but dangerous Mrs. Coulter (The Affair‘s Ruth Wilson).
The Book of Dust began with La Belle Sauvage, a prequel story published in 2017. The story, though centered on new character Malcolm Polstead, incorporated a younger Asriel and featured Lyra as an infant. The second book, titled The Secret Commonwealth, will be released this October.
McAvoy further teases on how The Book of Dust feeds into season 1 of HBO’s series: “We might have a little bit, like a minute of extra material, that comes from The Book of Dust, but that’s about it.”
Tranter adds, “We did have to take a very clear line and say we’re adapting His Dark Materials, and if there’s anything in The Book of Dust that suggests that — perhaps the origin story is a little bit different than how it is in the pages of His Dark Materials — we’ll either go by that or we’ll just adapt what’s in His Dark Materials.”
Season 2, which is already in production and cast Fleabag’s Andrew Scott as the books’ Col. John Parry/Doctor Stanislaus Grumman, will adapt Pullman’s The Subtle Knife with a planned-for season 3 to tackle The Amber Spyglass, the final book in the Dark Materials trilogy.
The show also stars Lin-Manuel Miranda as Texan aeronaut Lee Scoresby, Ruta Gedmintas as witch Serafina Pekkala, Lucian Msamati as leader of the Gyptians John Faa, and Joe Trandberg as the voice of armored polar bear Iorek Byrnison.
HBO recently announced the voice cast for the daemons, which are physical manifestations of human souls that exist outside the body as talking animals. Rocketman’s Kit Connor voices Lyra’s shapeshifting daemon Pantalaimon, while Peaky Blinders’ Helen McCrory voices Asriel’s snow leopard daemon Stelmaria.