A fourteen-year-old Irish actress is to take the lead in a new Netflix and CBC television adaptation of Lucy Maud Montgomery's classic “Anne of Green Gables.”
Amybeth McNulty, from Co. Donegal, revealed her casting in the once in a lifetime role via Instagram, proclaiming herself “honored and thrilled” to take on the role of Anne Shirley in the eight-part series named “Anne” expected in Spring 2017.
Auditioning for the series from her home in Donegal, McNulty beat over 1,800 other young actresses to clinch the role, adding to her TV and movie credits in RTÉ One series Clean Break, the feature film “Morgan’’ with Kate Mara, the television series “Agatha Raisin’’ and “The Sparticle Mystery’’ for CBBC in the United Kingdom. The 14-year old also performed in London’s production of the Sound of Music.
A self-confessed bookworm, the Donegal actress read the Montgomery book at just nine years old and believes she shares many traits with the novels feisty, orphaned heroine.
"She has so much love for the world, which I think I share with her,” McNulty told CBC.
“And her curiosity about everything, how she can be so fierce and so bold but so gentle and so loving."
The eagerly anticipated adaptation is to be overseen Moira Walley-Beckett, a three-time Emmy award-winning writer, and producer, with the hit TV show Breaking Bad and will be broadcast on CBC in Canada while being available to stream via Netflix elsewhere in the world.
“Amybeth is a wonderful and sensitive actress who embodies all of Anne’s qualities,” Walley-Beckett said of her young Irish lead.
“She’s soulful and inquisitive, mercurial and passionate. Her ability to convey pain and joy is breathtaking. Amybeth is Anne for a new generation.
"She's riveting on screen, she's translucent. You can see every thought and every emotion."
The show’s executive producer Miranda de Pencier confirmed with the Donegal Daily that 1,899 actresses auditioned for the role of the talented and imaginative Anne but the crew were “thrilled to have found the incredibly versatile and delightful Amybeth McNulty to play this world-renowned heroine alongside the rest of our brilliant cast.”
McNulty, whose mother is Canadian, traveled with her grandparents last month to begin filming on set in Prince Edward Island, Canada, the very location in which the book itself is set.
"First of all, anywhere you turn is a postcard, instantly," McNulty said of Prince Edward Island. "It's so gorgeous and the people are amazing, they're so lovely and welcoming. It was so amazing to shoot there, to think that's where Anne of Green Gables is and is so loved."
Accompanying her on set were R.H. Thomson (The Englishman's Boy, Road to Avonlea) and Geraldine James (Sherlock Holmes, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) who will undertake the roles of Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, the brother and sister pairing who take young Anne Shirley in, despite initially intending to adopt a boy.
With two upcoming feature-length adaptations of the novel also in production, as well as a TV movie version broadcast just last year, showrunner Walley-Beckett is set to take her experience from the darker, grittier Breaking Bad to ensure “Anne” stands out from the crowd.
"I feel that this Anne is entirely different," she told CBC.
“We're off-book. We're the essence of the book, we have the heart and soul of the book, we have our iconic moments that everyone can't wait for, and we're telling a new story. I think that is one reason why it's entirely its own."
"This is a very grounded, real version of the story. Life in Prince Edward Island in the late 1800s was a hard, gritty, scrappy life. It was messy, it was covered in red mud.
"The weather, the seasons, it's all part of our story. It's not doilies and teacups, it's life."
“Anne” can be expected on Netflix worldwide early in 2017, and on Netflix Canada once the CBC series has broadcast.