'The Man Who Fell to Earth' TV Series: Chiwetel Ejiofor to Play a New Alien Who Lands on Earth
In 2019, we learned that CBS All Access was developing a TV adaptation of The Man Who Fell to Earth, based on Walter Tevis’s 1963 novel and Nicolas Roeg’s 1976 sci-fi cult classic film version. That streaming service is being rebranded to Paramount+, but the show is still in the works – and it has now found its star.
Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave, Doctor Strange) will play a new alien character who lands on Earth. That news – especially the latter half of it – is probably music to the ears of people who are especially fond of David Bowie’s performance in the original movie. But while Bowie’s work will undoubtedly loom over this production, at least Ejiofor has room to do his own thing without having to portray that same exact character.
Deadline reports that Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek, Transformers, Fringe) and Jenny Lumet (Rachel Getting Married, Star Trek: Discovery) will be co-writing and executive producing The Man Who Fell to Earth TV series, which “will follow a new alien character, played by Ejiofor, who arrives on Earth at a turning point in human evolution and must confront his own past to determine our future.” Kurtzman is set to direct the pilot, and Kurtzman and Lumet, who have been writing together for years on projects like 2017’s The Mummy, multiple shows in the Star Trek canon, and the new CBS series Clarice, will serve as the co-showrunners.
Ejiofor is a perfect choice for a role like this. He’s arguably one of the most purely talented actors working today, capable of playing tenderness and warmth in one second and then cold, distant, calculating precision the next. When I interviewed him for the action film Triple 9, he struck me as a deeply intellectual person who never speaks without thinking, and I suspect he’ll be able to tap into that innate sharpness in a role like this.
“Walter Tevis’ visionary novel gave us a tech god Willy Wonka from another planet, brought to life by David Bowie’s legendary performance, that foretold Steve Jobs’ and Elon Musk’s impacts on our world,” Kurtzman and Lumet said when the show was first announced. “The series will imagine the next step in our evolution, seen through the eyes of an alien who must learn what it means to become human, even as he fights for the survival of his species.”
Here is the trailer for Roeg’s 1976 movie, which essentially launched Bowie’s acting career:
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