I recall when, early last year, I suggested that this could very happen, but many of you thought the idea ridiculous. It very well could be (ridiculous), but it is going to happen, per today’s news. And, quite frankly, no one should be surprised by this.
Fox has announced that the TV network is developing an American version of the hit BBC detective drama “Luther,” which Idris Elba starred in. Creator Neil Cross will work with Fox on the USA adaptation, with the network already giving it a pilot order, which means it’s not a guarantee yet that it will be a full-on series. The pilot will be produced, and if Fox brass like what they see (considering whatever other factors might be on their check lists), then the network will order “Luther” to series. And given how early this announcement is being made, we might be looking at a 2015/2016 debut – that is, assuming all goes well.
Cross will pen the script for 20th Century Fox TV, Chernin Entertainment and BBC Worldwide Prods.
Idris Elba is on board to executive produce, and is NOT expected to star in the American version, which opens the door for a new actor to take on the role (we can only assume he’ll also be black; although the original series wasn’t written specifically for a black man, so anything is possible. Basically, I’m just saying, don’t expect that the casting of a black actor in the title role is a slam dunk at this point. Let’s wait and see before celebrating!
However, assuming a black actor is cast as Luther in the American version, who’d be your choice for the part? I also have to wonder if the main cast of characters will also transfer, and if so, who would you cast as Alice Morgan, the nutty character played by Ruth Wilson, who was a significant part of the first season of the original?
This could be a career-making role for the right actor. Has American television ever seen a specifically black character like John Luther? The genius, emotionally-impulsive detective tormented by humanity’s darker side, complicatedly-drawn and incisively brought to life on screen as by Mr Elba.
I can’t think of anything close to what “Luther” brings – what those of us who are fans of the series (especially here in the USA), really appreciate about it, since that kind of a complex character (who also happens to be black) in a detective series, is painfully lacking on American television, and has been for a long time. And we have to look across the pond to find him.
Granted, Luther wasn’t originally scripted as a black man. Luther could’ve been any race, color, ethnicity, etc. Idris just happens to be black, and his *blackness* doesn’t really have any influence on the individual story strands of the series, or overall episodes – something that I think also adds to its appeal.
His skin color was never really a character, or a deliberate focus in an episode of the series (you’ll recall that Idris Elba has long stressed that he isn’t necessarily interested in being a “black actor,” or in playing “black characters,” or starring in “black films” that tell “black stories.” He just wants to be seen as any other actor in any other film or TV series).
Idris has already pretty much said that he won’t be returning for another season of the BBC series, because, first, he really wants to take the character from the small screen to the big screen next, producing and starring in a “Luther” feature film. And secondly, he wants to do other things. So, it makes sense that he won’t also star in the American version.
It’s actually a perfect set-up if you ponder it. “Luther” makes its American debut, introducing the character to a broader American audience, which will likely only assist with the packaging of a “Luther,” which is Elba’s ultimate goal.
Keep in mind that, even though many of us here are fans of Luther, and have been following the series since its first season a couple of years ago, it’s still not as popular a show as you’d think in the USA. A lot of us haven’t even heard of it. And I mean black people specifically. So there’s still room for it to grow as more folks discover it. If you haven’t seen the original series, maybe today’s news of a USA remake will inspire you to so.
But again, if you were to make a short list of actors you’d love to see star in the potential Fox “Luther” series, what black actors would be on it?