Fans of Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express will have to wait awhile for its sequel, Death on the Nile, because the actor/director is heading into his next family friendly effort for Disney. Branagh is set to helm the adaptation of the best-selling YA fantasy novel Artemis Fowl — described as “Die Hard with fairies” — and he’s just cast the eponymous lead character with an unknown.
According to Deadline, he and casting director Lucy Bevan saw 1,200 kids before picking an Irish lad by the name of Ferdia Shaw. They also chose Josh Gad for the role of the kleptomaniac dwarf Mulch Diggums, making him the second member of the Orient Express ensemble to come aboard since Dame Judi Dench is already attached as fairy police commander “Beetroot,” who is a male character on the page.
Yes, Artemis Fowl involves dwarves, elves and fairies, the latter being very wealthy creatures that the 12-year-old criminal protagonist Artemis Fowl II plans to rob. Nonso Anozie, who was in Branagh’s Cinderella, will play Butler, Fowl’s family servant and his bodyguard and friend, while child actress Lara McDonnell has been cast as Holly Short, a heroic elf and captain in Beetroot’s fantastical creature police force.
Originally published back in 2001, Artemis Fowl was first optioned at the time, when all the magical YA books were hoping to follow in Harry Potter‘s shoes, but took until now to move forward with Branagh working with a script by Irish playwright Conor McPherson. There’s obvious hopes to spawn a franchise, especially given there are eight books in the series. The first movie, though, will reportedly combine the initial installment and its follow-up, Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident.
Artemis Fowl will begin production next year and is set to release on August 9, 2019.