Having worked with director Baz Luhrmann on the likes of Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge! and the upcoming adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel, The Great Gatsby, screenwriter Craig Pearce will be trying his hand at adapting Kimberly Cutter's The Maid - but this time for international television audiences.
Cutter's novel – which tells the story of Joan of Arc – will not only grant Pearce the opportunity to see his work spread out across a multi-episode arc (no pun intended), it will also allow him an entirely different time period in which to tell the story. The Maid is told through the eyes of Jehanne d'Arc, the young French peasant who believed God had sent her to lead an army and save her country during the Hundred Years' War.
At the moment, there's little else to go on with regard to casting or potential directors – though it seems the project will likely decide to use a title other than The Maid. Perhaps more interesting, however, is that the series will be executive produced by Pukeko Pictures, which was co-founded by Richard Taylor – better known as the head of Weta Workshops.
Fresh off his role as costume designer for Peter Jackson's The Hobbit, Taylor – who has also done work on The Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as Jackson's 2005 version of King Kong and James Cameron's billion-dollar grossing Avatar – sounds eager to see Pukeko Pictures' take on the adaptation of Cutter's novel, and to see how Weta can make it an even more incredible endeavor.
Taylor had this to say about the project, which apparently plans to shoot in New Zealand:
"This project is the perfect fit for everything New Zealand has to offer. From our spectacular landscapes to the award-winning team here at Weta Workshop – an epic drama that can showcase everything from conceptual design through to manufacturing; utilizing all the skills we have honed on our feature work."
If what Taylor is saying means Weta will be involved on the production side of things, Pearce's new project may already be ahead of the curve. Being loosely tied to such films as Avatar and The Lord of the Rings will certainly help the project market itself to networks, and with the added benefit of Weta's expertise and deft touch in crafting gorgeously believable medieval weaponry, armor and other accoutrements, this version of Joan of Arc may have a distinct visual advantage over all others that have come before it.
Of course, the story of Joan of Arc is well known and has been told in several different iterations, from the 1928 silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc to the 1999 Luc Besson film The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (which was a more action-oriented take on the legend that saw Resident Evil star Milla Jovovich in the title role and John Malkovich as Charles VII). Also in 1999 came a television movie titled simply Joan of Arc, which starred Leelee Sobieski as Joan and Neal Patrick Harris as Charles VII. Both films had their fair share of detractors.
Considering the praise given to Cutter's novel, as well as the accolades Pearce has earned for his scripts, there's no doubt a certain expectation for the adaptation of The Maid to perform a little better than those projects – critically speaking, anyway.
Screen Rant will have more details on Craig Pearce's adaptation of The Maid as soon as they are available.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter