Having just won his second Best Director Oscar for helming Life of Pi, a few months ago Ang Lee signed on to direct his first television project, the pilot for Tyrant, a drama about an American family who gets caught up in the turmoil of a Middle Eastern nation.
Alas, Lee eventually had to bow out of the project, so now another high profile director has stepped in.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, David Yates has now signed on to direct the pilot for Tyrant. Yates is best known for directing four Harry Potter movies (including the two-part finale, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 & 2), but he’s not completely new to the world of television, having been nominated for an Emmy for the 2005 HBO film The Girl in the Cafe.
Much of his early output was for U.K. television, too, including all six episodes of the mini-series State of Play, which was remade in the U.S. as a feature starring Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck.
Tyrant has been shepherded by some equally high profile names in cable TV: Gideon Raff and Howard Gordon, executive producers of Showtime’s acclaimed counter-terrorism thriller series Homeland, and Craig Wright, writer-producer for HBO’s Six Feet Under. Raff is said to have created Tyrant and will be taking on main writing duties with Gordon and Wright developing. Wright will be serving as showrunner if FX picks up the series.
It may seem like losing Ang Lee was a blow to the project, but having Yates on board – a sure-handed director whose well-received Harry Potter films propelled him onto the A-list – is likely to inspire confidence in the pilot. The premise is intriguing and sounds like it’ll approach the same territory as Raff and Gordon’s live-wire saga of the morally gray world of domestic terrorism while staying grounded in the kind of family drama Wright knows so well from his work on Six Feet Under.
Yates is primarily known for helming the final chapters of the story of the boy wizard and bringing a darker and more mature tone to the material, which matches that of the corresponding novels. The U.K. version of State of Play also covered similar, political thriller ground (‘a London politician’s research assistant is found dead, prompting an examination into his personal life, with all kinds of secrets being laid bare’).
Lee and Yates are directors who have certainly developed their own personal styles, and it’ll be interesting to see the final result with Tyrant. Yates’ approach will be different, to be sure, but no less interesting.
There are no details about casting or a potential production schedule, but with Yates’ live-action Tarzan on hold until (supposedly) early 2014, expect to hear more news about Tyrant as the last half of 2013 winds down.