Link: Too many Annes? Shirley you jest
I was just a young punk photo editor at TV Guide when Kevin Sullivan’s Anne of Green Gables broke viewing records in Canada in 1985. A great, big, Hallmark greeting card of a series, the two-part event drew around five million viewers for one of its two nights. Continue reading.
Link: On Set with ‘Anne’ Star Amybeth McNulty
I got the first Anne book when I was 9 years old for my birthday, and that was all the experience I really had with it. I never watched the movies, never saw any other productions of it. It was just the book and I feel like that’s all I really needed. Then the script from Moira [Walley-Beckett] was given to me and I didn’t feel like I needed to re-read the book. I felt that I would stick with her script and any questions I had, I would go to her. That’s all I really needed for myself to picture Anne and to portray her in my sense of how she should be portrayed.” Continue reading.
It took me just 40 seconds into the first episode of CBC’s Anne—debuting Sunday at 8 p.m.—to realize this iteration of the Anne of Green Gables story was going to be different.
A sweeping shot of Matthew Cuthbert (R.H. Thomson) riding a thundering horse in the surf and a train whistle echoing in the distance immediately cut to the opening credits. The credits themselves are noteworthy, with Anne Shirley’s sayings scrawled into arty, enhanced tree limbs as The Tragically Hip’s “Ahead by a Century” plays. L.M. Montgomery’s iconic heroine is indeed over 100 years old, but hasn’t showed her age. Or her importance.
“What didn’t exist was an ongoing series where we got to spend more time with Anne,” says executive producer Miranda de Pencier. “The way the British repatriate their classics for new generations, we wanted to make our own version of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables that felt relevant to today.”
“It feels like this is the perfect moment in time to re-explore and re-examine Anne for today,” says fellow executive producer, writer and showrunner Moira Walley-Beckett. “There are such desperate issues right now, of gender parity, women’s rights—not to mention the issues that are inherent in the book of prejudice and bullying—what does it mean to be from away? To be an outsider and unaccepted? These were all issues that we thought were incredibly timely.”
Sunday’s two-hour debut is stunning visually. A cherry tree is a riot of colour against a pine forest as Anne sits outside the train station waiting for Matthew to pick her up. Waves crash against ruddy red cliffs. Big skies abound.
The performances are stellar too. Amybeth McNulty, of course, does most of the heavy lifting as Anne and doesn’t look out of place next to Geraldine James’ Marilla Cuthbert or Thomson’s Matthew. Anne is the creative and imaginative girl generations recognize, but Walley-Beckett’s script gives her an edge: flashbacks to abuse at the Hammonds are stark and scary. Thomson’s take on Matthew is a good one. Like the books, he’s reserved and quiet (Martin Sheen’s portrayal in the YTV TV-movies is decidedly more chatty.), and stooped shoulders make the lanky actor appear shorter than he really is. Other cast include Dalila Bela as Anne’s best bud, Diana Barry; Corrine Koslo as resident snoop Rachel Lynde; Aymeric Jett Montaz as farmhand Jerry Maynard; and Lucas Jade Zumann as Gilbert Blythe.
McNulty is simply charming in the lead role, able to exude enthusiasm, intelligence and a healthy dose of moxie without being annoying. You can’t help but smile when she utters a soliloquy that leaves Matthew nonplussed and Marilla shaking her head.
“Amybeth is fiercely bright and independent, spirited and incredibly sensitive and also has a worldly perspective, which is something we touch on again and again in Anne,” Walley-Beckett says. “She was it.”
Link: Anne of Green Gables adaptation is sublimely reinvigorated Anne is adapted this time by Moira Walley-Beckett, who wrote some of the most striking episodes of Breaking Bad. The leap from that to Anne of Green Gables might seem an extraordinarily risky one, but it makes sense. Anne is a rebel, after all. A classic one. This version, on the evidence of Sunday’s two-hour opener, is not reverential, nor is it overcontemporized, but it affords Anne Shirley an agency that is formidable. There is such fierce, uninhibitedly direct longing and defiance in this Anne. Continue reading.
This, of course, is yet another take on the well-known Anne of Green Gables story. In Anne, the young Anne Shirley, played this time by Amybeth McNulty, pauses to consider everything she has experienced, everything she has seen, and she is mulling a future which, at that moment, does not appear too bright. Continue reading.
Mark your calendars Anne of Green Gables fans! CBC announced that Season 1 of Anne is set to debut Sunday, March 19, at 8 p.m. on the public broadcaster.
Written and executive-produced by Moira Walley-Beckett (Breaking Bad), Anne stars Amybeth McNulty in the title role. Geraldine James and R.H. Thomson portray Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert.
We visited the set recently, so look for interviews from the cast and executive producers closer to airdate.
Check out the photo gallery of the key cast:
Amybeth McNulty as Anne Shirley
Geraldine James as Marilla Cuthbert
R.H. Thomson as Matthew Cuthbert
Dalila Bela as Diana Barry
Corrine Koslo as Rachel Lynde
Lucas Jade Zumann as Gilbert Blythe
And the teaser trailer!
Here are CBC’s official notes on the project:
ANNEis a coming-of-age story about an outsider who, against all odds and many challenges, fights for love and acceptance and her place in the world. Set in Prince Edward Island in the late 1890s, the series centers on Anne Shirley (Amybeth McNulty), a young orphaned girl who, after an abusive childhood spent in orphanages and the homes of strangers, is mistakenly sent to live with an aging sister and brother. Over time, 13-year-old Anne will transform the lives of Marilla (Geraldine James) and Matthew Cuthbert (R.H. Thomson) and eventually the entire small town in which they live with her unique spirit, fierce intellect and brilliant imagination. Anne’s adventures will reflect timeless and topical issues including themes of identity, feminism, bullying and prejudice.
ANNE is executive produced by Moira Walley-Beckett (three-time Emmy® and Golden Globe award winner, Breaking Bad, Flesh & Bone) and Miranda de Pencier (Beginners, Thanks for Sharing), under her Northwood Entertainment banner. Walley-Beckett is penning the entire first season of the series and serves as showrunner. ANNE is produced by Northwood Entertainment for CBC and Netflix.
Anne debuts Sunday, March 19, at 8 p.m. on CBC.
Related: Check out our interview with Walley-Beckett during the cross-Canada Anne auditions.