In one of its most ambitious undertakings to date, the BBC is teaming with The Weinstein Company and Look Out Point to bring viewers a sprawling, six-part miniseries adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s classic tome War and Peace. Now, the pieces are falling into place for the series, with word that Lily James and Paul Dano are circling lead roles in the project.
Offers have been sent out to James, a rising star known best for her role as Lady Rose MacClare on the PBS period drama Downton Abbey, and Dano, who has been quietly building a reputation as a skilled character actor with parts in Little Miss Sunshine, Prisoners and 12 Years a Slave, among others. Though neither actor has been confirmed yet, James would take on the lead role of Natasha Rostova, who falls in love with Pierre Bezukhov, an awkward and illegitimate son of a wealthy Russian nobleman who rises in society while grappling with his emotions. Dano would play Pierre.
Considered one of the finest books of all time, Tolstoy’s War and Peace revolves around five aristocratic families who become embroiled in the tumultuous political arena of Russia as the country goes through various upheavals. The book begins in 1805 but focused most on Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812, an event that has huge repercussions for all the characters.
War and Peace is aiming to broadcast in the U.K. next year, with a stateside release sure to follow. The project was scripted by Andrew Davies, a familiar name to fans of British television. He’s penned Little Dorrit, Mr. Selfridge, Bleak House and the original House of Cards, among others, for the BBC. Executive producers on the miniseries include BBC Cymru Wales drama chief Faith Penhale, BBC Wales’ George Ormond, Davies, Look Out Point’s Simon Vaughn and Harvey Weinstein.