Noomi Rapace and Nicholas Pinnock are joining Matthias Schoenaerts in the star cast of “Django,” an English-language reimagining of Sergio Corbucci’s classic 1966 Western. Set in the Wild West of the 1860s and ’70s, the project marks one of the biggest high-end European series of 2021.
Star of “Prometheus,” “Sherlock Holmes” and “What Happened to Monday,” Sweden’s Rapace will play Elizabeth, who is described as a powerful and merciless enemy of John Ellis. Along with his fiancee Sarah, John Ellis is the founder of New Babylon, a city of outcasts which welcomes everyone from any background, race or creed.
British actor Pinnock — whose credits include movies such as “The Last Tree” and “Dark Encounter” as well as popular TV dramas “Counterpart,”“Fortitude,” “Marcella and “For Life” — takes the key role of John Ellis. Schoenaerts (“Bullhead”) plays the titular role of Django.
German on-the-rise star Lisa Vicari, Martha Nielsen in “Dark,” embodies Sarah, Django’s long lost daughter. The project also features young European actors such as Jyuddah Jaymes (“Clique,” “Criminal: UK”), Eric Kole (“Fifty Pence,” “Hold”) and Benny Opoku-Arthur (“Get Lucky,” “Alexanderplatz”), who will play John Ellis’ three sons. Tom Austen (“The Royals,” “Grantchester”) and actor and Youtuber Abigail Thorn also have featured roles in the drama.
“Django” has just initiated principal photography in Romania. Supported by the Romanian government, it will shoot on location over six months in Racos, Bucharest and the Danube area.
Few European series this year have more powerful co-production partners than “Django,” which is produced for Sky and France’s Canal Plus by Atlantique Productions (“Midnight Sun,” “The Eddy”), part of Mediawan, and by Italy’s Cattleya, part of ITV Studios. The series is produced in collaboration with Germany’s Odeon Fiction, and Canal Plus-owned Studiocanal, which will also handle most of worldwide distribution outside Sky and Canal Plus territories.
Appropriately for a series inspired by an Italian modern classic, it is Italy which brings most of the creative talent to the table including Leonardo Fasoli. Fasoli is a creator and head writer on both “Gomorrah: The Series,” arguably Italy’s most successful series of the last decade, and the equally well-reviewed “ZeroZeroZero,” very possibly the country’s biggest series to date, made again by Cattleya in collaboration with Canal Plus and Studiocanal.
Corbucci’s classic was directed and written by men. Notably, this time around, women have far more creative wight with Fasoli reuniting with Maddalena Ravagli, a writing partner on “Gomorrah the Series” and “ZeroZeroZero,” to create and write “Django.” The first episodes will be directed by Francesca Comencini, who helmed 15 episodes of “Gomorrah the Series,” and who will also serve as the series’ artistic director.
That seems no coincidence. Corbucci’s original moved waves for the brutality and sadism of its violence, as well as select realism, seen in its mud-bath local high street shot in gray and sepia. Employing a fresh narrative, “Django,” the new series, sees Django finally find Sarah in New Babylon after the rest of his family was slaughtered eight years earlier. Gaining John Ellis’ hostility, he insists he must stay, arguing the city is in danger. Sarah fears, however, that his very presence in itself puts New Babylon in jeopardy.
Featuring strong female characters, led by Rapace’s Elizabeth, the series will deliver a reappraisal of masculinity in the Western and a “contemporary and psychological” take on the genre, Studiocanal promised on Tuesday.
Rapace will next be seen in “Lamb,” which bows fall 2021. She is represented by CAA, Stella Härnström, Narrative and and Hirsh Wallerstein Hayum Matlof & Fishman. Pinnock is represented by Matt Smith and Steven Brown at ICM, Oliver Slinger at Independent Talent and Jeff Golenberg at Silverlining Entertainment.