Brow Beat

Jonathan Franzen’s Purity Will Become a Television Series Starring the Smooth, Icy Menace of Daniel Craig

Daniel Craig will play the charismatic activist Andreas Wolf, a stand-in for Snowden.

Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images

If celebrity in 2016 is measured more in television deals than Jeopardy appearances, and more in Jeopardy appearances than novels, Jonathan Franzen has flown up yet another starry rung. Showtime announced today that it has ordered a limited series based on Puritythe author’s 2015 book about a disaffected young woman, Pip, entangled in other people’s mysteries—particularly those of her parents. The show will be written, directed, and produced by Todd Field, best known for In the Bedroom and Little Children (also adapted from a novel); Scott Rudin (Ex Machina), Eli Bush (The Grand Budapest Hotel), and playwright-filmmaker David Hare will co-produce. Most intriguingly, Daniel Craig will put his steely grace (and Bond-ian martini-downing powers) to use as Andreas Wolf, a secretive and tortured East German activist who lures Pip to South America to intern at his shady Sunlight Foundation, which aims to excavate all the world’s buried information.*

Exciting as it sounds to revisit Purity—which Slate’s Laura Miller called a “limber, untroubled, deliciously fluent piece of fiction”—we’re a little worried that Showtime has given the series a 20-episode, two-year arc. That is a lot of Purity, like heaven beaming down an ice-cold pitcher of unicorn milk when all you wanted was something relatively hormone-free to pour on your cereal. Does Field plan to expand the story, as Peter Jackson did with The Hobbit? Will Franzen’s zippy, unencumbered style survive such a slow drawing out?

We’ll find out deep in the dystopic, open-sourced future: Production on the show doesn’t begin until 2017. 

*Correction, June 1, 2016: This post originally misidentified Andreas Wolf as Russian; he is East-German.