30/06/2008. Contributed by Jessica Martin
Jim 'The Passion of the Christ' Caviezel and Ian 'Gandalf' McKellen are to star in ITV's reinvention of the 1960s cult science fiction-spy series The Prisoner. Caviezel takes the role of Number Six while McKellen will appear throughout the series in the role of Number Two. He's a man, not a number.
In the 1960s, The Prisoner helped alter the scope of the fantasy/SF spy genre. Through the work of Patrick McGoohan – who created, produced, wrote and directed the series, and starred in the lead role of Number Six – The Prisoner is regarded as one of the oddest and more intriguing cult TV series created.
"While the original series, which debuted in 1967, was a riff on Cold War politics, ITV’s remake will reflect 21st century concerns and anxieties, such as liberty, security and surveillance, yet also showcase the same key elements of paranoia, tense action and socio-political commentary seen in McGoohan’s enigmatic original," ITV told SFcrowsnest.com
McKellen told SFcrowsnest, “Bill Gallagher’s new version of The Prisoner is an enthralling commentary on modern culture. It is witty, intelligent and disturbing. I am very excited to be involved.”
The six one-hour episodes tell the story of a man who finds himself trapped in a mysterious and surreal place known as The Village, with no memory of how he arrived. As he frantically explores his environment, he discovers that its inhabitants are identified by number instead of by name and have no memory of a prior existence or outside civilization. Not knowing who to trust, Number Six is driven by the desperate need to discover the truth behind The Village, the reason for his being there, and most importantly, how he can survive and escape to his previous life.
The Village is controlled by one man – the sinister and charismatic Number Two. In each new episode Six and Two are locked in a battle of wits, as Six challenges the oppressive nature of The Village and battles against his captors. Six must find out what The Village is, but in doing so, he must also confront some dark truths about himself.
Jim Caviezel first received recognition for his role as idealist Private Witt in The Thin Red Line. The following year, he got roles in Ride with the Devil and Frequency. Caviezel was also chosen by Mel Gibson to star as Jesus Christ in the film The Passion of the Christ. Most recently Caviezel played against type when he co-starred opposite Denzel Washington in the thriller Déjŕ vu.
Ian McKellen got an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Gandalf in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. McKellen’s film credits include Gods and Monsters, X-Men, Richard III and The Da Vinci Code.
Writer Bill Gallagher went on to say, “I was haunted by The Prisoner when I saw it as a boy on its first broadcast. Here was something that was more than television, something I couldn’t quite grasp but couldn’t let go of. It’s a unique opportunity for a writer to be able to go back to The Village and tell some new stories about that strange place and its surreal menace. We have a terrific cast and a wonderful director, so we hope to serve up something as beguiling and disturbing as the original was.”
John Whiston, Director of ITV Productions added, “For those of us who were watching grown up TV in the 60s The Prisoner was dangerous, exciting and challenging TV. For those of us who were too young to stay up to watch the series, it casts a long shadow. You don’t embark on something this iconic without the best team around to do it justice for a whole new era. With Bill Gallagher as writer, Trevor Hopkins as Producer, Michele Buck, Damien Timmer and Rebecca Keane as the UK Execs, AMC as production partners, ITV as UK Commissioners and Jim Caviezel and Ian McKellen leading the cast, we have that team on board. I can’t wait.”
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