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Apple TV Plus Taps Keira Knightley to Star in ‘Essex Serpent’

Fern Siegel

Keira Knightley (“Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Colette”) has signed with Apple TV+ to star in “The Essex Serpent.”

She will also executive produce the adaptation of Sarah Perry’s acclaimed novel, reports Deadline.

The series, set in a small village in Essex in 1893 Victorian England, is about a widowed amateur naturalist (Knightley) enthralled by a local legend. She believes the mythic creature known as the Essex Serpent is a new species. The local pastor believes the rumors are caused by moral panic.

An excerpt from the novel:

“While admiring the sites, Cora learns of an intriguing rumor that has arisen further up the estuary, of a fearsome creature said to roam the marshes claiming human lives. After nearly 300 years, the mythical Essex Serpent is said to have returned, taking the life of a young man on New Year’s Eve.”

In 2016, the novel was named Book of the Year by the British Book Awards.

The period drama was commissioned by Apple from its UK unit.

Apple TV+ has been attracting top talent lately. Just last week, it announced director Sofia Coppola’s “On the Rocks,” starring Bill Murray, Rashida Jones and Marlon Wayans, will stream on the service in October after opening in theaters.

In addition, Jason Sudeikis’ quirky soccer comedy “Ted Lasso” was renewed last week for a second season, while Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine company will produce the streamer’s first competition show, “My Kind of Country.”