Great news, fans of the terrific British crime drama Luther! Though the show’s third and final series (that’s season for us Yanks) has finished airing over in the UK and is set to air on BBC America early next month, show creator Neil Cross is actively in the process of putting together a jump to the big screen for DCI John Luther (Idris Elba), the tormented detective at the show’s center.
Cross, quoted at the Edinburgh TV Festival, gave fans an update on a cinematic adaptation of the series:
I’ve written the script and we hope to get the film made next year. Idris is a brilliant leading man and we’ve hoped to turn Luther into a movie for a long time. It will follow his career in the earlier days, when he is still married to Zoe, and the final scene in the film is the first of the initial TV series.
Based on that, it seems clear that former supporting characters on the show, including Luther’s estranged wife Zoe (Indira Varma), partner Justin Ripley (Warren Brown) and back-stabbing best friend Ian Reed (Steven Mackintosh), will be restored to life to play roles in the film. It’s likely as well that Detective Superintendent Rose Teller (Saskia Reeves), who was relieved of her post following the events of the series one finale, will return for the project.
Unfortunately, the announcement that a Luther film would be set before the first episode of the series means that there will be no opportunity for fan favorite Ruth Wilson to reprise her role as charismatic psychopath Alice Morgan.
Cross’s statement, and the fact that he has already completed the screenplay, leads me to believe that the project will actually be an adaptation of Luther: The Calling, a prequel novel Cross penned in 2011 for Simon & Schuster. That novel, tonally darker and more brutal than the already decidedly bleak television show, followed Luther’s attempts to apprehend twisted child murderer Henry Madsen, and concluded with the opening scene of the show’s first episode.
Elba has repeatedly expressed his enthusiasm for taking Luther to the big screen, saying in 2012 that, “That’s where the ultimate Luther story will unfold, is in the big silver screen — London as a huge backdrop and a very menacing, horrible character to play against.” Madsen would certainly be a suitable villain for the film, committing some crimes so horrific in the novel that I’ll choose to abstain from even repeating them here.
Regarding the potential challenges of finding an audience for a film that focuses on an already-established television character, Elba noted earlier this year that, “We do want a new audience, but we also want to keep the fans interested, so we have to tread very carefully.”
Elba has risen to prominence in recent years after appearing in sci-fi thriller Prometheus and summer tentpole Pacific Rim, but there’s no way of knowing whether he has enough of a following to bring new audiences to a Luther film all by himself. Playing the morally complex character of Luther was undoubtedly a breakout role for the actor, who won a Golden Globe for his performance in 2012. He will make his Oscar bid this November with the lead role in the highly anticipated biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.
Are you excited for a Luther film, or should the character have stayed on the small screen? Let us know what you think of the announcement in the comments section.