Justin Theroux’s return to television is nothing short of a family affair.
The actor, who last led HBO’s critically acclaimed drama “The Leftovers” and co-starred in the Netflix limited series “Maniac,” will soon be seen in “The Mosquito Coast,” a new series from Apple TV+ about a family who flees to Mexico when the U.S. government comes a’ callin’. Theroux plays the patriarch, eccentric inventor, and idealist Allie Fox, who film fans may associate with Harrison Ford — in the 1986 movie of the same name — but the story originated in 1981 as a novel by Paul Theroux, who just so happens to be Justin’s uncle.
Now, 40 years after its release, the book has been adapted into a seven-episode first season by series creator Neil Cross (“Luther”) and is set to make an awards run this spring. Early Friday, Apple TV+ released the debut trailer, first-look photos, and set its release date for April 30 during a panel at the Television Critics Association’s Winter 2021 Press Tour.
“I have a long history with the novel mainly because I read it as a kid,” Justin Theroux said during the virtual panel. “I obviously knew the character but I knew the novel version of him. This is Allie seen through a slightly different prism. As with any great character, I think you’ll see an evolution of this character in subsequent episodes.”
“Part of the intention of the show is not just to honor what Paul did with Allie Fox, but to engage with Paul Theroux’s entire world view — both with the novels he’s written and the travel literature he’s written,” Cross said.
Theroux went on and said he had plenty of discussions with his uncle about the book, after he liked the first few scripts, and found out that Allie was “loosely” based on certain members of their family. (“My grandfather had a certain thriftiness to him,” he said.) Later, he said Paul Theroux was “thrilled” by the adaptation, noting that he’s already seen the episodes and that the first season serves as a “sort of prequel” to the book.
As for the movie adaptation, Theroux didn’t go looking for tips from Harrison Ford — “I would never try to crib from him,” he said. “[But] I have to think there were some similar things [in the character] that maybe we both found on our one” — but the two actors did share a coincidental “tequila-filled dinner” in Mexico City while Theroux was shooting the series.
“I’ve seen the movie many times, from the age of 15 on, and [Ford] did such a fabulous job,” Theroux said, but the two never talked about the character during their chance meeting.
In addition to Theroux, the cast features Melissa George as Margot, the family matriarch, writer, and her husband’s fellow co-conspirator; Logan Polish as Dina, the older of two kids who’s none too eager to leave her Stockton, CA home; and Gabriel Bateman as Charlie, a curious young boy eager to follow in his father’s inventive footsteps.
With Cross serving as showrunner and creator, the series also features Rupert Wyatt, Paul Theroux, Justin Theroux, and Edward L. McDonnell among its executive producers. Wyatt (“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”) directs the first two episodes, while Jeremy Podeswa (Episode 3), Natalia Beristain (Episodes 4 and 6), Tinge Krishnan (Episode 5), and Claire Kilner (Episode 7) helm the rest of the series. Bob Bookman, Alan Gasmer, and Peter Jaysen serve as additional executive producers for Veritas Entertainment Group. “The Mosquito Coast” is a Freemantle Production.
While Theroux has served as executive producer on movies he’s written (like “Tropic Thunder”) and the Emmy-winning ABC specials, “Live in Front of a Studio Audience,” “The Mosquito Coast” marks the first serialized TV project he’s EP’d as well as the first project he’s starred in and produced.
Watch the trailer below.
“The Mosquito Coast” premieres its first two episodes Friday, April 30 on Apple TV+. New episodes will be released weekly.