Andy Serkis is a very busy man. When he’s not scrabbling around on all fours, providing motion capture performances for Gollum (The Hobbit) and Ceasar (Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes), he’s acquiring new projects for his Imaginarium Studios to bring to the big screen. Staying within the fantasy genre, Serkis has selected Samantha Shannon’s bestselling debut novel The Bone Season to adapt into a feature film.
The book, published in August by Bloomsbury, features a strong female heroine in Paige Mahoney in the year 2059. She works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, where she steals information by breaking into people’s minds. But when she’s attacked and taken to Oxford – a city that’s been kept secret for 200 years – she must consent to be nurtured and trained by her enemy if she’s to stand a chance of escaping.
“I immediately fell in love with the scope, the scale and the exceptional detail of the world Samantha had created,” says Serkis on why he snapped up the rights to the novel. “It’s a really compelling story with such a great central character – we all immediately saw its potential as a fantastic feature film.”
He also revealed that he’s been working closely with 22-year-old author Samantha Shannon “on all aspects of bringing the world of the book to the screen”. The Bone Season is the first in a 7-part series, so this could be the start of something epic. “There are thousands of stories contained within the world that Samantha has created,” he says, “we have to be very disciplined about opening up the world in a way that will lead us on to further investigation in the rest of the series.
“We need to find the emotional heart of the story; the relationships; the tension; the suspense and the drive, and of course working closely with Samantha is going to make it much easier. At this very early stage it’s about finding the right writer and the right approach to telling the story. Hand in hand with developing the screenplay it’s also about developing the visual world and bringing that to life, finding the right visual effects team who understand Samantha’s concepts.”
Of course, Serkis’ experiences on some of the world’s most famous fantasy worlds is going to help. “Having worked on The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien’s extraordinary world with Peter Jackson is incredibly useful,” he continues. “[Director] Peter [Jackson] basically gave me the opportunity to work on a lot of extraordinary characters in a lot of extraordinary worlds and has opened up my eyes to a genre that I knew very little about before.”
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon is available now from Amazon.co.uk for £9.09, published by Bloomsbury.