"It's a code that's waiting to be cracked," the auteur says of the planned TV series.

By Nick Romano
November 11, 2020 at 11:41 AM EST
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Credit: Simon Ridgway/HBO; DAW

The Kingkiller Chronicle is "still a code that's waiting to be cracked," Lin-Manuel Miranda tells EW of the long development process for the TV series adaptation.

Author Patrick Rothfuss' books, starting with The Name of the Wind, was heading to Showtime in 2017 as a planned fantasy drama with Miranda on board as one of the executive producers. Lionsgate had acquired the rights in 2015 with hopes to develop not just this show, but a movie and videogame, as well. The network has since dropped the project and has been shopped around since. The good news is that Miranda shares that they are still trying to crack the code of this material, and that working on His Dark Materials, a different kind of fantasy series based on a book trilogy, has offered him "new perspective."

"I've gained new perspective on it, having been able to be a part of this other fantasy franchise and seeing how, 'Oh man, we did eight hours of story and we still didn't get all of the first book in there. What hope does a movie have?!' The answer is none," Miranda explains in an interview ahead of the U.S. premiere of His Dark Materials season 2 on HBO and HBO Max. "The real answer is a director and a script with a vision, that is a different thing [than the book] because you can't get all of Pat's incredible book into one movie, and I don't know if you can get it into one series. But it is an incredible world worth exploring, but it hasn't been cracked yet."

Rothfuss' Kingkiller Chronicle tells of Kvothe, who one day becomes his world's most notorious wizard but he begins as an adventuring musician. John Rogers (Leverage) was set to write the pilot episode and serve as showrunner for the planned adaptation.

Miranda — as busy as he ever is juggling writing, producing, composing, directing, and acting— returns as aeronaut Lee Scoresby in His Dark Materials, which adapts the events of author Philip Pullman's The Subtle Knife in season 2. Premiering in the States this Sunday, Nov. 16, the new batch of episodes honors the "disorientation" that's in the books, Miranda says. "We have spent the whole first book in this very richly imagined world and then Book 2 starts and you're in a completely different universe," he explains of his experience reading Pullman's trilogy. "You start to get a glimpse of how big and epic the scope of this story is gonna be. I think season 2 of our show honors that, that disorientation that we're gonna spend time in different universes."

That show, which introduced the concept of daemons as the physical manifestation of human souls that exist outside the body as talking animals, is also a complex, fantastical world to The Kingkiller Chronicle. Witnessing this "process of adaptation" with lead executive producer Jane Tranter and writer Jack Thorne was "fascinating," Miranda continues. "Even with seven hours of TV, it still doesn't feel like we got all of it."

In terms of the multitude of other projects on his plate, Miranda says, "I'm writing scores for two animated musicals, one for Sony and one for Disney."

Vivo, the one for Sony he estimates is now "10 years in the making," tells of a music-loving capuchin monkey who makes a treacherous journy from Havana to Miami. "It's in amazing shape," Miranda notes, "and Quiara [Alegría Hudes], my cowriter on [In the] Heights, is working on the screenplay with Kirk [De Micco], our director." For the Disney animated musical, the Colombia-set Encanto, Miranda says, "It's been so exciting because with Moana it was the joy of my life but I was the last guy hired. And with this I've been in on the ground floor. To be in on the development of an original Disney musical is such a thrill."

Miranda says he also finished composing the songs for Disney's live-action The Little Mermaid with Alan Menken before the pandemic-prompted lockdowns hit in March. "I can't wait for [the cast] to get back to work because they hadn't started rolling when everything closed down," he mentioned. "So, I'm hoping they start in earnest at the top of next year."

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