FOX Networks Group (FNG) Europe and Africa has today announced that the critically acclaimed British actor, Mark Strong has joined their first regional scripted commission. Officially titled ‘Deep State’, this drama forms part of the group’s strategy to source, develop and produce original productions at a regional level.
Written by Matthew Parkhill (Rogue), Simon Maxwell (American Odyssey) and Steve Thompson (Sherlock, Dr Who), ‘Deep State’ is an intense, character-driven espionage thriller that will air in over 50 countries on the region’s leading entertainment channel, FOX.
On joining the project, Mark Strong said “Every now and again a script comes along that you just can’t put down and Deep State is exactly that – a great example of the best kind of writing. I’m incredibly proud to be working with FNG on their first regional scripted commission. They have put together an excellent team, and I’m very much looking forward to collaborating with Robert Connolly, Matthew Parkhill, Hilary Bevan Jones. With scripts from Matthew, Simon Maxwell and Steve Thompson, producers Tom Nash and Khadija Alami and with David Higgs as DoP and Pat Campbell designing, it makes this for me an unmissable opportunity to return to television. The character I’m playing is completely morally conflicted - the type of role I find myself drawn to. He has to marry a secretive and extremely dangerous work life, with that of a loving father and a loyal husband, and it makes for a fascinating character study. The fast moving narrative coupled with the twists of the plot, and the complexity of the makeup of the characters make it the kind of series I’d love to watch, as well as be a part of.”
Commenting on the announcement, Sara Johnson, VP, Scripted Drama, said, “Mark Strong is an incredibly diverse and powerful actor with great range and depth. With a long list of credits across stage and screen, Mark has a rare ability to create compelling and nuanced performances and we are thrilled he is returning to TV through this series, bringing the complex character of Max Easton to life.”
Set in Britain, The U.S., Iran, Lebanon and France; this enthralling story, shot with suspense, action and duplicity, shows the merciless reality of the world of espionage, in which an increasingly rare conscience can get you, and the ones you love, killed.
Strong (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Zero Dark Thirty, Kingsman-The Golden Circle), the Olivier award winning and BAFTA/Tony nominated actor, will play the lead role of Max Easton, a man caught between two versions of himself, the past and the present. An ex-spy, Max is brought back into the game to avenge the death of his son, only to find himself at the heart of a covert intelligence war and a conspiracy to profit from the spread of chaos throughout the Middle East.
Showrunner Matthew Parkhill said, ’Deep State’ is a grounded, visceral thriller. It moves between the deeply personal story of a family man fighting to escape his past and the violent, dark excesses of government and global corporate power”.
Executive Producer for Endor, Hilary Bevan Jones, adds “As an actor, Mark Strong has the intelligence, power and subtlety to realise troubled characters in the most extraordinary way. We are absolutely thrilled to be working on this drama with Jeff Ford and Sara Johnson at Fox Networks Group. Given the international arena and scale of ‘Deep State’ we have the perfect partner in FNG.”
Alongside Strong, breakthrough talent Karima McAdams (Fearless, Vikings) has joined to play the part of Leyla Toumi, a smart and uncompromising elite, Intelligence Operative. The series will begin shooting in May 2017.
Additional creative talents have also been confirmed including Robert Connolly, who will be directing episodes one to four. Connolly garnered much acclaim for his work on BAFTA nominated ABC/BBC mini-series The Slap, and recently directed Australian box office smash hit film Paper Planes starring Sam Worthington and Deborah Mailman. Other credits include the multi award winning political thriller Balibo starring Golden Globe winner Oscar Isaac and Anthony LaPaglia.
Pat Campbell joins as Production Designer. Campbell is well known for her extensive work in television and film including BAFTA Award winning Wolf Hall (BBC), The Promise (Channel 4) and What We Did On Our Holiday (Origin Pictures). Director of Photography is BAFTA Award winning David Higgs, BSC (Churchill, Outlander).
Jeff Ford, SVP Content Development, FNG Europe & Africa said, “FOX is known for bringing viewers the best, first. With a passion for storytelling we are committed to delivering programmes with the highest production values of our Hollywood heritage, working with the best in the business. ‘Deep State’ truly reflects this, with some of the most creative minds in the industry and finest acting talents signed up to the project. The sheer scale and ambition of this project is a testament of things to come, as we strive to produce quality, premium programming for a global audience”.