HBO took “His Dark Materials” to Hall H at Comic-Con 2019 and with it, the cast and creatives talked up the show’s universe and philosophical point of view — and premiered a new trailer for the series based on Phillip Pullman’s epic fantasy trilogy.
We also got a release date — sort of: “His Dark Materials” comes out “Fall 2019,” according to the trailer, so mark your calendar. Literally mark the last few months of it. And watch the trailer above.
The series, which already has a two-season order, stars Dafne Keen, Ruth Wilson, Lin-Manuel Miranda and James McAvoy. The four were present for the show’s Hall H panel, which also included executive producer Jane Tranter and series writer Jack Thorne. Among the interesting tidbits to come out of the panel, Miranda revealed he’s a huge fanboy for Pullman’s books, and that he and his wife read them together when they were first dating. (Awww!)
But Pullman’s novels, “Northern Lights” (published as “The Golden Compass” in North America), “The Subtle Knife” and “The Amber Spyglass,” examine concepts like free will, the problem of evil, and the nature (and morality) of the concept of God — we assure you we’re only scratching the surface — only set in in a world where science, theology and magic are entwined. It’s all explored through the story of a young girl named Lyra, and “His Dark Materials” has attracted considerable outrage since the first book was published in 1995.
The panel touched on those political and philosophical themes somewhat. Tranter specifically rebutted the contention that the books should be seen as specific attacks on real world religions. “Phillip Pullman is not attacking belief, he’s not attacking faith or the church,” she said. “He’s attacking a very specific kind of control,” that, Tranter continued, can “keep people in the dark and not allow people to be free,” but one that doesn’t refer to “a particular church or religion in our world.”
Thorne, meanwhile, was a bit less circumspect in drawing a connection between the books and real life. He told the Hall H crowd that the story has particular relevance to current events because it focuses on someone “following her goodness” rather than “following her greatness.”
“I really believe we should be following our goodness right now and we are getting distracted by greatness,” he said.
Per HBO, the first season follows Lyra as she “discovers a dangerous secret that involves Lord Asriel (McAvoy) and Mrs. Marisa Coulter (Wilson). In her search for her missing friend, Lyra also uncovers a slew of kidnappings and its link to the mysterious substance called Dust.”
Produced by Bad Wolf and New Line Cinema, “His Dark Materials” will air on The BBC in the U.K. and HBO in the U.S. HBO is also distributing the series outside the U.K. It’s executive produced by Pullman, Tranter and Julie Gardner for Bad Wolf, Toby Emmerich and Carolyn Blackwood for New Line Cinema, Bethan Jones for BBC One and Deborah Forte for Scholastic, which publishes the books.
“The Golden Compass” was previously adapted as a feature film in 2007 starring Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman; it’s unrelated to the HBO series.
TheWrap is in San Diego all week long for Comic-Con 2019 — check out all of our ongoing coverage here.