Eleanor Catton's gold rush epic The Luminaries melds astrology, murder, and thwarted romance. Catton made big changes in adapting her book into a six-part miniseries, but the key characters remain intact. After meeting fellow adventurer Emery Staines on a voyage to the South Island, immigrant Anna Wetherell is taken under the wing of charismatic fortune-teller Lydia Wells (Casino Royale's Eva Green). The sprawling cast features Eve Hewson (daughter of singer Bono), Himesh Patel (EastEnders) and Kiwi Marton Csokas. The Luminaries won eight NZ TV Awards, including for Patel and Australian director Claire McCarthy.
The idea of going to film something there [New Zealand] for several months was attractive. And then, it was a story that’s so connected to New Zealand’s history. I felt a personal connection to it, as well, because it’s also British history. We’re drawing on colonial history, which is running underneath this thing. It’s ultimately a really unique and really cerebral love story that’s really brilliantly adapted by Eleanor [Catton] from her own novel. Usually, you’d imagine an author adapting their own work would stick quite closely to the novel, but she drifted away from it so amazingly and adapted it in a really clever way.– Actor Himesh Patel on what attracted him to The Luminaries, Collider website, 4 March 2021
Made by Southern Light Films with Working Title Television for the BBC, in association with Fremantle, Silver Reel and TVNZ, with assistance from the NZ Screen Production Grant