Molly Parker, Brian J. Smith, Stephen McHattie, Finlay Wojtak-Hissong, and Kevin Durand lead the cast of Essex County (5×60), EP and First Generation Films (FGF) CEO Christina Piovesan announced today. Based on Jeff Lemire’s graphic novel, Essex County is a limited series that follows the intertwining lives of two families living in a rural community. The series explores how loss, betrayal, and trauma can impact generations and how redemption can be found through human connection.
ITV Studios and Media Musketeer Studios will launch the show internationally at MIPCOM. The limited series premieres in Canada on CBC and CBC Gem in Winter 2023.
“This emotionally powerful and imaginative story of loss and loneliness in rural Ontario speaks to our universal longing to better understand and connect with each other in our own families and communities, and we can’t wait to watch this exceptional cast bring Jeff’s characters and vision to life,” said Sally Catto, General Manager, Entertainment, Factual and Sports, CBC.
“It’s a real privilege to bring Jeff and Eilis’ deeply intimate, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story to audiences everywhere,” said Julie Medal-Johnsen, EVP Global Content at ITV Studios. “We’re confident our buyers will appreciate how special and unique Essex County is, there’s truly nothing else on the market like this.”
“Since first speaking to Christina Piovesan about Essex County, Media Musketeers Studios has wanted to help bring this beautiful story to screens around the world,” said Chris Law, Managing Partner at Media Musketeers Studios. “We could not have found a more enthusiastic partner than ITVS, who immediately fell in love with the project and shared our vision as to its international appeal.”
“Years in the making, it is my thrill and honour to bring Jeff’s beloved graphic novel to the screen,” said Executive Producer and CEO of First Generation Films, Christina Piovesan. “I couldn’t be prouder of the team we assembled and I’m so grateful for the unwavering support from our partners at CBC, Media Musketeers, and ITV Studios.”
Sprawling in scope yet intensely intimate, Essex County is written by creator Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth; Black Hammer; Secret Path) and Eilis Kirwan (The Whistleblower; Nurses) and directed by EmmyÒ-winner Andrew Cividino (Schitt’s Creek, Sleeping Giant). Production wrapped on September 30th in North Bay, Ontario.
Despite the appearances of a close-knit community, many of the Essex County residents are isolated and lonely. Eleven-year-old Lester (Finlay Wojtak-Hissong) has moved in with his uncle Ken (Brian J. Smith) after the death of his mother. Ken, a stoic farmer, must contend with his own grief and fears while raising Lester, even as Lester looks for a father in Jimmy (Kevin Durand) – a man who can barely take care of himself. Anne (Molly Parker) a nurse and mother who, after a lifetime of caring for others, finds herself at a crossroads when her daughter leaves for university. When Anne takes over the care of her estranged uncle, Lou, (Stephen McHattie) who is suffering from worsening dementia and the ghosts of his past, she begins to unearth family secrets. It is through Lou and Lester that the viewer enters a world of magic realism – Lou’s present begins to merge with his past and he literally haunts his own memories; Lester escapes into his imaginary world as he struggles to overcome his crushing grief.