Cinemax’s attempt to convert the Transporter film franchise into a bona fide action series is well on its way to fruition. The show’s producers are moving into the final stages of prepping the pilot by hiring Stephen Williams (Lost) to handle directing chores for the series’ first outing.

Williams, a television veteran, has worked in the medium as a producer and director for nearly 20 years. In addition to his producing responsibilities on Lost, Williams also directed 26 episodes of the series. He followed that up with a brief stint on J.J. Abrams’ short-lived spy romp Undercovers for NBC.  Prior to his work with Abrams, Williams also handled a handful of episodes on Tim Kring’s Crossing Jordan.

Like the films – which moved Jason Statham from Guy Ritchie’s go-to guy with a cool accent to international action star – Cinemax’s Transporter series will maintain the character of ‘professional transporter’ Frank Martin. This time, however, British actor Chris Vance will play Martin.

Vance should be most recognizable to fans of Dexter, as Cole Harmon – cohort of, and head of security for Jordan Chase (Johnny Lee Miller) in season 5. Other high-profile credits for the actor include 14 episodes of Prison Break, and a memorable run as the well-dressed, former MI6 operative Mason Gilroy, on USA’s Burn Notice.

As production on Transporter nears, the series has also filled out much of its supporting cast. Brought on around the same time as Vance, actress Andrea Osvart will play a former CIA operative who is now working as Frank’s handler.

More recently, Delphine Chanéac (Splice), and Rachel Skarsten (Birds of Prey, Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer) have been added to the cast. Chanéac will be playing Olivia, a reporter who has been tracking Frank’s jobs for some time, while Skarsten will take on the more mysterious role of Delia – the daughter of a man from Frank’s past.

Perhaps the biggest casting news comes from the fact that François Berléand will be reprising his film role as Inspector Tarconi for the upcoming television series.

Given their past credits, it’s very likely that Vance and Williams will bring a different set of sensibilities to the Transporter series than Jason Statham and director Louis Leterrier brought to the (first two) theatrical releases. Are we looking at the dawn of a more grounded, complex Frank Martin – instead of the random-object-as-weapon aesthetic of the films? While it’s unclear whether Vance has the kind of moves Statham does, there’s little doubt the series will be loaded with action.

No word yet on whether Audi will be supplying cars for Vance’s Martin to make his ‘transporter’ runs with. Whichever automaker ends up with the gig will be looking at some serious in-show advertisement, though, so Audi may not be the only car company looking to pay that bill.

Cinemax is currently undergoing a transformation of sorts – heavily skewing to the male demographic (as it always has), but now as a destination for original action-adventure series done as only a top pay-cable network can. In addition to Transporter, HBO’s younger sibling will also debut the adaptation of UK series Strike Back, starring Phillip Winchester – Leontes of Starz’s Camelot.

Strike Back is set to premiere later this summer, while fans can prepare themselves for Transporter sometime in 2012.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter