FLORENCE PUGH

FANS WILL SEE A NEW ADAP­TA­TION OF ONE OF HIS SPY NOV­ELS WHEN ‘THE LIT­TLE DRUM­MER GIRL’ HITS TV SCREENS, AF­TER THE SERIES SHOW­CASED AT THE LON­DON FILM FES­TI­VAL EAR­LIER THIS MONTH

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Atale of es­pi­onage and in­trigue by Bri­tain’s mas­ter spy nov­el­ist John le Carre is the lat­est TV series to grab the lime­light usu­ally re­served for movies. The series based on his 1983 novel “The Lit­tle Drum­mer Girl”, di­rected by South Korea’s Park Chan-Wook, will hit TVs in the next month, but it got a big screen world pre­miere this week at the Lon­don Film Fes­ti­val.

It was the only TV pro­duc­tion to earn a cov­eted slot at the two-week in­ter­na­tional show­case, and its in­clu­sion is seen as a fur­ther sign of the for­mat’s grow­ing sta­tus within the world of cin­ema.

“The land­scape has shifted com­pletely in the past decade,” Alexander Skars­gard, the Golden Globe-win­ning ac­tor who plays a lead role in the mini-series, said.

“It’s not like it used to be where TV ac­tors want to grad­u­ate and move into fea­tures.

“It feels al­most like the river’s low­ing in the op­po­site di­rec­tion now. A lot of amaz­ing direc­tors and writ­ers grav­i­tate to­wards tele­vi­sion.”

Park, who won the top prize at the 2004 Cannes Film Fes­ti­val for “Old­boy”, di­rects all six episodes of the spy series in what is his TV de­but.

Com­mis­sioned by the BBC and Amer­i­can pay-TV net­work AMC, “The Lit­tle Drum­mer Girl” is the lat­est Le Carre work adapted for tele­vi­sion by this An­gloAmer­i­can part­ner­ship, which was be­hind hit TV series “The Night Man­ager”, crafted from the Bri­tish au­thor’s 1993 spy novel.

But Le Carre — the pen name of David John Moore Corn­well — warned that this fol­low-up, which will also be broad­cast worldwide af­ter net­ting var­i­ous dis­tri­bu­tion deals in Lon­don, may strug­gle to match its pre­de­ces­sor’s broad ap­peal.

“It’s not a whizz-bang thing and it has a much more se­ri­ous con­tent in some ways,” he said at the pre­miere of “The Lit­tle Drum­mer Girl” on Oct. 14.

Set in the late 1970s, it fol­lows a iery ac­tress and ide­al­ist — played by English ac­tress Florence Pugh — who is re­cruited by Skars­gard’s char­ac­ter to be­come a dou­ble agent.

She joins a coun­tert­er­ror­ism unit in­il­trat­ing a cell car­ry­ing out bomb­ings across Europe.

Pugh said she was drawn to the project for the “mind­blow­ing” chance to work with Park.

She said that au­di­ences in­creas­ingly ap­pre­ci­ate qual­ity TV be­cause “you have time with these char­ac­ters, you re­ally get to love them.”

“It’s not over in an hour and a half. You are in­vested in these peo­ple,” Pugh added.

Cannes, the world’s most pres­ti­gious ilm fes­ti­val, last year al­lowed TV series among its of­fer­ings for the irst time.

Lon­don has in­cluded small screen work in previous years, show­ing episodes of Bri­tish sci-i an­thol­ogy “Black Mirror” in 2016 and Amer­i­can crime drama “Mind­hunter” last year.

Tricia Tut­tle, artis­tic direc­tor of its 2018 show­case, said their in­clu­sion stemmed from high-cal­i­bre TV re­main­ing “very ex­cit­ing” and at­tract­ing top ilm­mak­ers.

“(They) are work­ing in ways we of­ten think of as more cin­e­matic — with story, im­age, de­sign and sound work­ing in­ter­tex­tu­ally, with real so­phis­ti­ca­tion,” she said.

“This kind of work looks ter­riic on the big screen.

And fes­ti­vals can pro­vide au­di­ences with that ‘one-ofa-kind’ col­lec­tive cin­e­matic ex­pe­ri­ence of scale.”

Os­car-nom­i­nated ac­tor Michael Shan­non, who plays the head of the an­titer­ror­ism unit in “The Lit­tle Drum­mer Girl”, agreed TV al­lows sto­ry­telling de­tails to be re­tained in a way of­ten im­pos­si­ble in a 90-minute movie.

How­ever, he added ilms still held a spe­cial ap­peal, al­low­ing ilm­mak­ers to be ar­tis­ti­cally ad­ven­tur­ous.

“I think tele­vi­sion can’t help but be a lit­tle bit more ori­ented to­wards mass con­sump­tion,” he said.

“There is the pos­si­bil­ity in ilm to... take a bit more risk.”

The mini-series was made by the mak­ers of Golden Globe-win­ning “The Night Man­ager”, with le Carre’s sons once again ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ers. The au­thor de­scribed the story as “quite dif­fer­ent”.

“The one thing you can’t do, you can’t be a one-trick pony, you can’t re­peat it. We had a mas­sive au­di­ence (for “The Night Man­ager”),” le Carre said at “The Lit­tle Drum­mer Girl” pre­miere at the BFI Lon­don Film Fes­ti­val re­cently.

“This will be a dif­fer­ent thing ... prob­a­bly at­tract a smaller but a much more re­spon­sive au­di­ence in many ways. It’s not as ac­ces­si­ble, it’s more think­ing, it’s slower and I think more beau­ti­ful.”

“Lady Mac­beth” ac­tress Florence Pugh takes the role of Char­lie in the series, which also stars “The Shape of Wa­ter” ac­tor Michael Shan­non and “Big Lit­tle Lies” star Alexander Skars­gard.

“She is some­one so opin­ion­ated, so loud, so sure of her­self,” Pugh said of Char­lie. “I loved the fact that my char­ac­ter wasn’t nec­es­sar­ily from that (spy) world ... us as the au­di­ence, we watch her like we are her.”

Skars­gard plays in­tel­li­gence agent Becker, who as part of the story’s spy plot also pre­tends to be a young Pales­tinian Char­lie trav­els with across Europe.

“I hope peo­ple em­brace this show as much as they did ‘The Night Man­ager’,” he said.

Au­thor John le Carre

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