‘Harry Potter’ Star Michael Gambon & More Join J.K. Rowling’s ‘Casual Vacancy’ at HBO

By June 6, 2014

While J.K. Rowling is heading back into the wizarding world by scripting the adaptation of her book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, one of her non-magical books is being turned into a miniseries at BBC One and HBO, and some of the cast has just been revealed.

Fans will be excited to hear that Albus Dumbledore himself, BAFTA winning actor Michael Gambon will star in the miniseries adaptation of The Casual Vacancy. Gambon will play Howard Mollison, owner of the Pagford delicatessen, with Julia McKenzie (Notes on a Scandal) playing his wife Shirley.

For those who may not have read the book, here’s the official synopsis:

When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

Casual Vacancy - J.K. Rowling

Other announced cast members include British TV star Rufus Jones as Howard’s son Miles, and Keeley Hawes (Line of Duty) as Miles’ wife Samantha Mollison. Rory Kinnear (Skyfall) will play the recent deceased Barry Fairbrother, with Keeley Forsyth and Abigail Lawrie playing Terri and Krystal Weedon respectively.  There’s also Monica Dolan playing Tess Wall with Simon McBurney as her husband Colin, and Richard Glover as Simon Price and Marie Critchley as his wife Ruth. And finally, Michelle Austin will play Kay Bawden.

Those are probably a lot of names American audiences aren’t familiar with, but this does hail from the United Kingdom after all, where it will likely get the biggest reception, and miniseries sometimes don’t have big casts like feature films, so the lack of star power isn’t too surprising. Gambon might be enough of a draw from his work on the Harry Potter films to draw American audiences in by himself, but there are still other key characters that need to be cast, so some more big name actors from the United Kingdom might get revealed soon; either way, this is a promising start.

The Casual Vacancy will consist of three one-hour installments that BBC One and HBO are producing together, with production beginning next month in South West England. There’s not a set air date for the miniseries yet, but you can bet we’ll keep you posted as this project develops and heads into production.

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Ethan Anderton
Some of his favorite films include Ghostbusters, The Empire Strikes Back and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, while his favorite TV series include LOST, Mad Men, 30 Rock, Parks & Recreation, Arrested Development and Saturday Night Live.
  • Gambon is great, and since I haven’t read the book, I’m interested to see what Rowling’s idea of a more “grown up” story will be. I’m guessing the fact that it’ll be HBO will go a long way in pulling in American audiences since that network has such an excellent reputation.