The first actor to be cast in Netflix's new adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House has been confirmed, and it's a face familiar to Game of Thrones fans. In the first piece of casting news since the project was announced, Michiel Huisman will be playing the lead role in the new version of this classic ghost story.
The Haunting of Hill House began life as novel written by author Shirley Jackson in 1959, and is generally acknowledged as being one of the classic all-time great supernatural stories. Since its publication it's been made into a stage play, but is perhaps better known for inspiring two major films. One of them was made in 1963, a British production called simply The Haunting and starring Julie Harris and Claire Bloom. This is widely recognised as being one of the best haunted house movies ever made. The second one was the 1999 version, which shared the same title and starred Liam Neeson. This is notorious for being one of the worst horror movie remakes of recent years. However, it was only in April that Netflix announced that a 10 episode TV series based on the original novel was in development and would soon join their schedules.
The production of the series has taken a step forward today as THR has confirmed that the first piece of casting has taken place, and the series has its leading actor. Michiel Huisman will play Steven Crane, the oldest member of the Crane family (who own the deeds to the house), and someone who makes his living writing supernatural books. Interestingly it's not a character that appears in the original book or the two film versions, with the Luke Sanderson character (heir to the property) being the most similar to him. Even the spelling of Crane is different (it's the "Crain" family who built the house in previous versions). However, given that Netflix is spreading the story across a whole series, many changes and different plot developments to the source material should be expected. The plot is still expected to repeat the basic concept of the novel, with four academics investigating the paranormal activities in the house whilst dark secrets are gradually revealed.
Huisman is best known as Daario Naharis in Game of Thrones, the skilled mercenary who builds up a close relationship with Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke). Having played the character since season 4 (and currently still breathing), he's become a firm favorite with fans of the show. The actor has also appeared in The Age of Adaline and World War Z , as well as recurring parts on Treme and Orphan Black, becoming quite the in-demand leading man as a result. With an charismatic actor in place, it will be interesting to see what other casting choices are made, especially with the (presumably) pivotal female roles.
A big advantage that the series does already have is that it's being helmed by genre director Mike Flanagan (Oculus), who is also writing and producing the show alongside Trevor Macy, Amblin TV's Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank. Flanagan has a history of producing imaginative and offbeat horror productions, and made last year's horror prequel Ouija: Origin of Evil far better than the tired follow-up that was expected. Hopefully Netflix and Flanagan will be able to make this series more like the 1963 film, and not the 1999 remake. We'll keep you updated with any further developments on The Haunting of Hill House.