The British are coming! Doctor Who and Guardians of the Galaxy alum Karen Gillan has signed on to the HBO pilot The Devil You Know, alongside Zawe Ashton of Fresh Meat (Ashton has also been in Doctor Who, but really is there a British actor who hasn’t?).
According to Deadline, the two will join fellow Brits comedian/writer Eddie Izzard, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Ewen Bremner and Irishman Damien Molony in the drama, based upon the 17th century witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts.
Created by Jenji Kohan – of Orange is the New Black – Ben Miller and Tracey Miller, The Devil You Know, a “provocative period drama”, will be helmed by Milk and Good Will Hunting director Gus Van Sant.
Izzard will play Puritan Thomas Putnam, one of the main protagonists of the witch trails in 1692. Gillen will be Jane Porter, whose family was the subject of many of Putnam’s accusations; and also happened to be the daughter of Putnam’s arch rival Israel (played by Bremner).
Ashton will play the role of Tituba, a slave owned by the Parris family; the patriarch of which, Minister Samuel Parris, is played by Rhind-Tutt. Tituba supposedly practised voodoo and was one of the first women accused of witchcraft. It was her trial which sparked the massive witch-hunt.
Putnam’s wife Ann will be portrayed by Ever Carradine of Commander in Chief, one of the few Americans in the cast, whilst his eldest son is played by Molony.
There have been several portrayals of the Salem trials over the years; my favourites being Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, and the Vanessa Redgrave mini-series Three Sovereigns for Sarah, not forgetting American Horror Story: Coven which featured descendants of the Salem witches now resident in New Orleans.
The Devil You Know, which is a joint project of HBO and Lionsgate TV, begins production in Boston in the spring.