Disney has announced the first round of castings for its live action adaptation of Eoin Colfer’s bestselling YA novel series ‘Artemis Fowl’.   Kenneth Branagh (‘Murder on the Orient Express’) has been tapped to direct with a screenplay by Michael Goldenberg (‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’), based on a story by Conor McPherson (‘The Eclipse’).

After seeing 1,200 candidates, casting director Lucy Bevan selected Irish newcomer Ferdia Shaw to play the title role, a 12 year-old criminal mastermind.  He will be joined by Josh Gad, Judi Dench, Lara McDonnell, and Nonso Anozie.  Both Gad and Dench costarred in Branagh’s recent hit ‘Murder on the Orient Express’.

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Dench has been cast as Commander Root, “the steely leader of the fairy police force.”  Though she has had a lengthy and distinguished career, Dench may be best known to modern film viewers as M in the most recent James Bond movies.

Gad, best known for voicing Olaf in ‘Frozen’ and subsequent tie-in shorts, will play Mulch Diggums, a thieving dwarf who works for the fairies.  McDonnell (‘The Delinquent Season’) will play elf Holly Short, the only female captain of LEPrecon (Lower Elements Police Recon).  Anozie (‘Zoo’) portrays Fowl’s loyal bodyguard Butler.

The first ‘Artemis Fowl’ book was published in 2001 and was a best-seller spawning seven additional novels.  The books center around Artemis Fowl II, a 12-year-old criminal mastermind, who takes over his family’s crime empire after his father’s death, which may have been the result of a conflict with the fairies.

Miramax originally optioned the first book for a film adaptation in 2001, with plans for Lawrence Guterman to direct, but that production languished in development hell until 2011.  Until recently, the present version of ‘Artemis Fowl’ was a joint venture between Disney and The Weinstein Company, but Disney severed ties in the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual abuse scandal.

‘Artemis Fowl’ is scheduled for release on August 9, 2019.

Source: Entertainment Weekly