Why Did Keira Knightley Leave The Essex Serpent? All About Essex Serpent TV Show

There’s just something about Keira Knightley sporting a corset and looking out through frosted glass, it just feels right. However, the Oscar nominee plans to return to her costume drama roots in new AppleTV + series. The Essex Serpent have stopped. Deadline reports that Knightley left the Romantic Period drama, adapted from Sarah Perry’s bestselling 2016 novel, weeks before production. She was set to produce the series and play the role of Cora, a newly widowed woman who is opening a new chapter in Victorian London after escaping an abusive marriage, according to a press release.

Here’s what we know about the project delay, Knightley’s release, and Perry’s book.

The Essex Serpent is based on an award-winning novel.

The Essex Serpent is based on a widely acclaimed 2016 novel by Perry, which was named Book of the Year by the British Book Awards that year. Clio Barnard (The selfish giant, The arbor) will direct the series, while Anna Symon (Deep waters, Mrs. Wilson) will serve as lead writer. Executive producers include Barnard, Symon, Jamie Laurenson, Hakan Kousetta, Patrick Waalters, Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Andrea Cornwell as producer.

Set in 1893, the book finds Cora twisted into a messy romantic tangle after settling in Aldwinter, a small village in Essex. His curiosity for a local creature called the Essex Snake is piqued, according to a Editor’s Weekly description of the plot, and during her research she meets a married reverend named William Ransome, who is determined to prove that the serpent is simply an old bride’s tale. “This puts them at odds with each other, but, strangely, also acts as a powerful source of attraction between them,” the Editor’s Weekly summary teases. Enter Luke Garrett, Cora’s ex-husband’s doctor, and we have a love triangle.

Knightley is no longer involved in The Essex Serpent.

Weeks after being announced as executive producer and manager of the show, she reportedly gave up The Essex Serpent. Knightley’s representative issued a statement, via People, who attributes his exit to “family reasons” amid the coronavirus pandemic. The statement reads as follows:

Keira unfortunately had to withdraw The Essex Serpent for family reasons. As COVID cases increase in the UK and additional lockdown and restriction rules are potentially imposed, with so many unknowns, there was no comfortable scenario for Keira that could be put in place for a extended period of childcare required for 4.5-monthly production.

Knightley shares two children with her husband of seven, James Righton – Edie, 5, and Delilah, 1. Deadline this production was due to start at the end of November, but would be delayed because the creative team was looking for a new Cora. By the exit, The Essex Serpent will now begin filming in 2021.

Further casting details and a release date are pending.

No further details on the show’s release date or casting information have yet been released. When Knightley was tied up some (mainly me) were hoping Matthew Macfadyen would take a break from filming Succession to complete his Knightley trilogy, following Pride and Prejudice and Anna karenina.

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