‘Godless star Jack O’Connell is to star in the BBC’s adaptation of The North Water. Deadline understands that the British actor will play the lead role of Patrick Sumner in the series, which is written and directed by Lean on Pete and 45 Years’ Andrew Haigh, and produced by Top of the Lake producer See-Saw Films.
O’Connell’s Sumner is a disgraced ex-army surgeon who signs up as the ship’s doctor. Hoping to escape the horrors of his past, Sumner finds himself on an ill-fated journey with murderous psychopath Henry Drax, played by Colin Farrell. Sumner is in search of redemption, and his story becomes a harsh struggle for survival in the Arctic wasteland.
The series, which is being produced as three hour-long episodes and a 90-minute finale, is set in Hull and the ice floes of the Arctic in the late 1850s. It is an adaptation of Ian McGuire’s Man Booker Prize-longlisted novel. It is exec produced by Jamie Laurenson, Hakan Kousetta, Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and BBC’s Lucy Richer. It is a co-production with Rhombus Media, whose Niv Fichman will also exec produce. It was commissioned by Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, and Patrick Holland, Controller of BBC Two. Filming will begin this fall. BBC Studios distributes.
It is O’Connell’s first UK television role in a number of years since he broke out of E4 teen drama Skins. He is starring opposite Laura Dern in Roadside Attractions’ drama Trial By Fire, which will be released on May 17, and stars with Charlie Hunnam in Jungleland and opposite Kristen Stewart in Against All Enemies, both of which will be out later in the year. He previously starred in Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken as well as indie drama Starred Up and ’71.
O’Connell is repped by Conway van Gelder Grant, CAA and Sloane, Offer, Weber & Dern.
Haigh said, “Jack is a fiercely instinctual actor who brings nuance and complexity to every character he plays. I can’t wait to see him bring Patrick Sumner to life.”
Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama said, “Jack is one of the most fearless and instinctive actors of his generation and is the perfect choice to bring The North Water’s troubles and ambiguous hero to life.”
“Jack is one of the most exciting young actors working today,” added See-Saw Films’ COO Hakan Kousetta and Head of Television Jamie Laurenson. “He elevates each project he’s been a part of, so it’s no surprise he’s received so much attention and acclaim. We’re thrilled to have him on board.”’