[WATCH] David Farr (‘The Night Manager’) on challenges of adapting John le Carre novel for television

“It was a great excitement for us all,” admits “The Night Manager” screenwriter David Farr as we chat via webcam (watch above) about the limited series reaping an impressive 12 Emmy nominations. He numbers among those for his acclaimed adaptation of the John le Carre novel. The AMC production stars Tom Hiddleston as Jonathan Pine, the night manager of a Cairo hotel who is recruited to infiltrate the inner circle of a dangerous arms dealer (Hugh Laurie).

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Both Hiddleston and Laurie were also nominated, as were costar Olivia Coleman and director Susanne Bier. “It’s a show we’d spent obviously a lot of time making,” says Farr, “and I think we’re all very proud of it.” Farr, who wrote episodes of the BBC spy series “MI-5,” first became involved when approached by the author’s sons, who had been trying to bring the project to the screen since the early 1990s.

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In adapting the book for television, he reveals, “What I knew I could trust was this extraordinary skeleton, this incredible emotional skeleton, that the book had.” The plot, as per usual with le Carre, is complex. Yet what stands out, Farr believes, “is just this strange, what I call metaphysical, existential quality to the character of Pine.” He explains, “we’re constantly unsure about which way he might go, and which decision he might make.”

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Among the many changes Farr made was the ending. “The book goes very internal in a very specific way,” he explains, “that simply wouldn’t have worked as well in the dramatic form.” After the casting of Hiddleston and Laurie, “it was so clear to me that I had to engage in that very simple battle of two titans.”

Farr wrote the screenplay for the upcoming film “HHhH,” which recounts Operation Anthropoid that resulted in the assassination of Nazi leader Richard Heydrich during WWII. The film, which stars Jason Clarke, Rosamund Pike, Jack O’Connell, and Mia Wasikowska, has been picked up for distribution by the Weinstein Company; no release date has been set.

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