Maybe it’s the grand collapse of our nation, or a yearning for the epic tales of yesteryear in a world where Harry Styles fan fiction becomes a three-film franchise, but classic literature is back onscreen in a big way. From Dakota Johnson’s Netflix Persuasion adaptation to an upcoming Emma Mackey-led biopic of Emily Brönte, the past is the present in Hollywood these days—and an FX/BBC joint limited-series reboot of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations is the latest example. First announced back in 2020, the project appears to finally be in full swing given a new crop of first-look images from the six-installment series shared today.
Based on still shots, FX and BBC are betting on the stylized look and feel of the project as much as its talented cast, led by Olivia Colman as Miss Havisham. Colman, the antidote to the industry’s plague of populating period pieces with performers who have faces that know what iPhones are, is in full tattered, musty glory as the powdered housemistress. Seriously, this writer is the first to decry Hollywood’s obsession with slathering on the old-age makeup instead of hiring an age-appropriate performer, but Colman is devouring the batshit-but-beautiful Havisham look. From the wilting flower crown to the thick pinky ring— Pip is lucky to have his little chin in her hand!
Although viewers of a certain age may feel like they have seen just so many Great Expectations adaptations, the latest attempt does boast a talented crop of actors in addition to Colman, including Fionn Whitehead as Pip, Shalom Brune-Franklin as Estella, Ashley Thomas as Jaggers, and Matt Berry as Mr. Pumblechuck (swoon). Academy Award-winner Stephen Knight, who previously helmed an iffy 2019 adaption of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol for BBC, will write, direct, and executive produce Great Expectations.
Although principal filming is clearly either in full swing or concluded, Great Expectations still has yet to receive an official release date— plenty of time to revisit previous adaptations for an apt comparison.