His Dark Materials EP explains why they needed to shoot two seasons close together
On Friday, Lin-Manuel Miranda shared a video from the set of HBO and BBC’s upcoming series adaptation of His Dark Materials. He’s already finished wrapping his role of aeronaut Lee Scoresby in season 2 and he wanted his fans to know.
Yes, season 1 of His Dark Materials hasn’t even premiered yet — the first episode will bow in the U.S. on HBO this Nov. 4 at 9 p.m. ET/PT — and Miranda is already finishing up with season 2. There’s a reason why lead executive producer Jane Tranter needed both seasons shot as close together as possible.
When Tranter received a two-season order in 2018 to adapt Philip Pullman’s fantasy trilogy into a television series, the plan was always to dedicate one season to the events of The Golden Compass (titled Northern Lights in the U.K.) and a second season for the events of The Subtle Knife, the second book. That’s because the events of The Subtle Knife pick up hours after the events of The Golden Compass.
Twelve months in between filming seasons may not be unreasonable for adult actors, but, as Tranter explains to EW, it’s “a long time” for her star, 14-year-old Dafne Keen, who plays Lyra Belacqua in His Dark Materials.
“Suddenly they’re six inches taller and they’re a different shape and their voices are different,” Tranter says. “Our feeling was we really couldn’t leave more than a very small gap between the end of when Dafne Keen finished filming, which was December 2018, and when she started again, July 2019. That was basically the biggest gap that we could possibly do and still have her come back and convincingly look like it was moments, hours later [in season 2]. The BBC and HBO very kindly said, ‘Let’s make 16 episodes across the two books and go for it.’ So, I consider it more of a staggered, large first commitment rather than, ‘Oooh! Here’s two seasons up front.'”
His Dark Materials chronicles the adventures of Lyra, an orphan girl who lives in a reality parallel to our own where human souls exist outside the body as talking animal companions called daemons. Lyra and her daemon, Pan (voiced by Kit Connor), are living comfortably at Oxford’s Jordan College when her uncle, explorer Lord Asriel (James McAvoy), comes to present his potentially blasphemous findings about something called Dust. From there, Lyra foils an assassination attempt on Asriel, a string of child kidnappings claim her friend Roger as the next victim, and a mysterious, dangerous woman named Mrs. Coulter (Ruth Wilson) comes to offer her an out from Jordan College.
“That’s a season 2 wrap on Lee Scoresby & Hester!” tweeted Miranda, who plays Lee Scoresby, a Texan aeronaut who helps Lyra in her adventures. His daemon is a hare named Hester, voiced by comedian Cristela Alonzo.
As for the rest of the crew, season 2 continues filming. Fleabag actor Andrew Scott is one of the new faces joining the cast for these Subtle Knife-inspired episodes.