Last week was a good week for fans of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens, as both the official release date for the new Amazon Prime adaptation and a rather high-profile addition to the cast was announced, according to Deadline.
The six-episode series was the topic of a TCA panel in Pasadena on Feb 13th, where Gaiman – alongside stars David Tennant (Doctor Who, Broadchurch) and Michael Sheen (TRON, Masters of Sex) – revealed that May 31st was the official release date for all six episodes, and encouraged fans to “plan for your binge parties”. And while we’ve known that Tennant and Sheen star as the demon Crowley and the angel Aziraphale, respectively, a major character from the book has been suspiciously absent from any announcements prior to the panel. We’ve heard that Jon Hamm will be the angel Gabriel (“He does say he did it for the money – but I know he did it for the money AND because it was his favorite book.” – Gaiman), that Derek Jacobi will be the angel Metratron, Michael McKean will be Shadwell, and Adria Arjona will be Anathema, alongside a host — pun certainly intended — of others, but one critical cast member was absent.
“As many of you know, Frances McDormand is playing God in this, and we suddenly realized that we have Satan turning up in episode six, and we needed someone who could give Frances McDormand a run for her money,” said Gaiman, “So we found a young British actor that needed a lot of direction… Benedict Cumberbatch.”
Cumberbatch (Sherlock, Doctor Strange) will voice the Lord of Lies and father to a conspicuously uncooperative Anti-Christ, but the visual personification of the Devil will be a computer generated demon. Fans of the book will have a pretty good idea what his appearance involves, but for new viewers, well, it’s probably best to avoid spoilers.
Considering the long road Good Omens took to get to this point — a planned sequel never got terribly far and Terry Gilliam being unable to get the funding for a film version in 2002 that was rumored to star Robin Williams — fans have thus far had only a 2013 Scottish stage production and the 2015 BBC radio adaptation to bring Gaiman and Pratchett’s characters to life. The BBC 4 adaptation – starring Mark Heap (Spaced), Peter Serafinowicz (The Tick, Guardians of the Galaxy) and a stellar voice cast – was quite good, but somewhat constrained by a 4-hour runtime. The Amazon Prime series, on the other hand, allowed for expanding the original story to include some ideas from the sequel novel-that-wasn’t, 668 — The Neighbour of the Beast, and enables Gaiman to fulfill a posthumous request to adapt the book for the screen, made by Pratchett, who died in 2015 from Alzheimer’s disease.
Fans of the book won’t have long to wait to see the star-studded results.
Good Omens stars David Tennant, Michael Sheen, Nick Offerman, Jon Hamm, Derek Jacobi, Michael McKean, Jack Whitehall, Miranda Richardson, Adria Arjona, Anna Maxwell Martin, Mireille Enos, and will will premiere on Amazon Prime Video in over 200 countries and territories on May 31, and air on BBC Two in the UK later in 2019. Produced by BBC Studios, Amazon Studios, Blank Corporation and Narrativia.