Olivia Colman Will Appear As Charles Dickens’s Most Divisive Heroine In A Great Expectations Adaptation

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Greg Williams

Olivia Colman has made a habit of choosing less-than-expected roles through the years; the former Peep Show star won an Oscar as a gout-riddled Queen Anne (The Favourite), then turned around and played the lead in a series about Susan Edwards, a real-life murderess who did away with her own parents before spending their fortune on Hollywood memorabilia. Her next major TV role? Appearing as Miss Havisham in the BBC and FX’s forthcoming Great Expectations adaptation.

In case you managed to escape school without reading Dickens’s 1861 novel, the story follows a penniless young orphan named Pip (to be played by Dunkirk’s Fionn Whitehead), who begins receiving money from an anonymous patron when he turns 18. His assumed benefactress: Miss Havisham, “an immensely rich and grim old lady”, who invited him to visit her at Satis House as a boy, where he met and fell in love with her ward, Estella (Hayley Squires). This being Dickens, though, all is not quite as it seems – not least because Miss Havisham got jilted at the altar many years earlier, and has some lingering resentment towards the general male population.

BAFTA-winning writer Steven Knight – who previously adapted A Christmas Carol for the BBC – will pen the screenplay, while Lucy Forbes (The End of the F***ing World) will direct the series, with Tom Hardy and Ridley Scott serving as executive producers. As for Colman’s other forthcoming projects this year? The Crown star will lend her talents to Paul King’s Wonka alongside Timothée Chalamet, before co-starring in an ’80s-set love story with Colin Firth for 1917 director Sam Mendes.