In an era of reboots, sequels, and adaptations, audiences are notoriously protective of favourite stories. So when Miranda de Pencier, a producer for CBC’s recently announced new Anne of Green Gables television series, set to debut in 2017, decided to tackle the project, she acknowledged the enduring legacy at stake. However, what de Pencier and her creative team are offering is not a direct adaptation, but a sort of companion piece to Lucy Maud Montgomery’s 1908 novel and the beloved 1985 miniseries that followed. Rather than revisiting raspberry cordial, broken slates, and puffed sleeves, the new series, Anne, will instead focus on an original set of adventures for Anne and her Avonlea friends.
In addition to gobbling up Anne novels (like any good Canadian child), de Pencier, in fact, was an actor in the 1985 miniseries—she played antagonist Josie Pye. Suffice it to say, she understands the nation’s protective instinct of Anne. “She’s strong, she’s smart, she speaks her mind. And she also has to realize the moments where she needs to be humble. She makes mistakes and she’s a human being and she’s not perfect,” says de Pencier of Anne’s timeless character. Along with her creative team, including producer/writer Moira Walley-Beckett of Breaking Bad fame, de Pencier’s vision comes from absolute respect of its source, motivated by eagerness to delve further into the world of Green Gables. “[Walley-Beckett] is a writer who understands character,” de Pencier says. “[She] can climb into and embody those characters and bring them to life in the most real and gorgeous ways.”
Part of this exploration of character will entail the oft glanced-over aspect of Anne’s life as an orphan. “Anne had a history before she came to Green Gables. How does that affect her?” says de Pencier, who volunteered in Los Angeles County’s foster care system for six years. “It’s about going deeper. And [Walley-Beckett] knows how to go deeper.” The benefit of ongoing episodes, rather than trying to encapsulate many years at Green Gables in one miniseries, is that the audience will be granted more time to take this journey with our fiery heroine.
“It’s not for the faint of heart to be tackling Anne of Green Gables,” de Pencier admits. “But we hope, and our goal is, to sit alongside those in the Anne lexicon.” After all, who doesn’t want more moments with Anne? Thanks to kindred spirits willing to work alongside cherished material, maybe we’ll even learn something new about an old favourite.
This article originally published January 19, 2016.
Images courtesy of Penguin Random House.