Emmy-winning writer-producer Jason Katims said casting Connie Britton in his latest project for Apple TV+ came to him on “instinct,” with “Dear Edward” marking a reunion between him and the star of “Friday Night Lights,” on which he wrote and executive produced.
“I always wanted to work together again,” Katims, who developed “Dear Edward” for television, said at the 2023 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour for Apple TV+. “But I wanted to wait until I felt like I had a role to bring to her that was going to be something that I just had this instinct that she would connect with this woman.”
He continued, “One day, when we started talking about casting, I was driving and I thought: Connie. It just came to me, and from that moment on, it became the only person that I could imagine doing it, and then we had just this incredible experience. I gave her the script and we started this conversation about this woman. It was so great, it was very collaborative. And it was collaborative like ‘Friday Night Lights’ was. In a certain way, even more so because we had much more time before we started shooting to work together and it was really a wonderful experience.”
Britton agreed, adding, “This was a role that when you told me about it, and we talked about it, I was like, ‘That’s fun, that’s exciting. I want to do that.’ And I always wanted to work with Jason again, but it’s almost like you have to let time pass. You really do have to get to that right moment. Every moment playing this role was a joy, and I felt like that was because we have the history that we have.”
“Friday Night Lights,” which ran for five seasons and also starred Kyle Chandler and Aimee Teegarden, won three Emmys during its run. The NBC sports drama also scored nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Britton.
“Dear Edward,” adapted from the bestselling novel of the same name by Ann Napolitano, follows the title character (Colin O’Brien), a 12-year-old boy who is the sole survivor of a devastating commercial airplane crash. The story unfolds as Edward engages in a grief therapy group and forms unexpected friendships as he and others strive to heal after the tragedy. In the show, Britton portrays Dee Dee, a central character who loses her husband Charles in the plane crash only to discover that he was living a whole extramarital life apart from her and their daughter.
The series also stars Taylor Schilling, Anna Uzele, Amy Forsyth, Eva Ariel Binder, Brittany S. Hall and more.
Katims serves as showrunner, writer and executive producer on the series through True Jack Productions alongside Jeni Mulein. Napolitano is also an EP alongside Fisher Stevens, who is set to direct and executive produce the pilot.
Also during the panel, Katims said he had spoken with Napolitano when the book was first optioned about wanting to adapt it for future seasons.
“I wanted to explore the story in such a way that would set ourselves up to continue to expand and grow,” Katims said. “We talked about the fact that we would take some liberties with the book, add more characters that weren’t in the book so that it would set up a situation where you would have a story that would continue these lives that we would want to know more about. Yes, the story begins with this [dramatic] event, but what the story is ultimately about is these people and the unexpected relationships with people who never would have known each other who become deeply connected through circumstance.”
The series will premiere globally on Feb. 3 with three episodes. Subsequent episodes will stream weekly on Fridays through March 24.