AMC Series 'The Night Manager' Puts a Strong Pregnant Woman Front & Center

The Night Manager

An enigmatic former soldier-turned-spy. An intelligence agent on a relentless crusade. A charming billionaire selling deadly weapons to terrorists. These three key characters make up The Night Manager, AMC's new six-part miniseries premiering tonight. But if you're imagining three men looking dapper in suits, you'd be wrong. Although these characters were all male in the 1993 John le Carré novel on which the show is based, one of them is now a pregnant woman in the miniseries. Can you guess which one?

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If you guessed the spy -- well, no. That's the suave hotel manager Jonathan Pine (played by real-life Disney prince Tom Hiddleston), who is recruited by British intelligence to take down an arms dealer. And that arms dealer is "the worst man in the world," Richard Roper (played by everyone's favorite curmudgeonly doctor from House, Hugh Laurie). But Pine's handler, who was originally Leonard Burr in the book, is now Angela Burr on the TV series, and she's brought brilliantly to life by Broadchurch's Olivia Colman, who happened to be pregnant while shooting the series.

"[Colman] told me on our first meeting that she was pregnant and I thought that's fantastic for the part," director Susanne Bier said at a viewing and Q&A at the Tribeca Film Festival last week, which she attended with Tom Hiddleston.

 

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Bier -- the enormously talented Oscar-winning Danish filmmaker who directed this entire miniseries -- explained that part of the exercise with the script was taking the story from 1993, when the novel was written, to 2016. "Part of what is luckily happening in the present time is that our world is actually slightly more diverse, and even the world of spies [is] more diverse than being kind of controlled by white men having gone to public school," she said at the Q&A. Bier said it seemed like a very good idea to try to make Burr a woman, and that her one and only choice was Colman.

Olivia Colman Angela Burr

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Hiddleston was asked at the Q&A how that changed the dynamic for him -- dealing with a handler who was a pregnant woman rather than a middle-aged white man. He told the audience, "Honestly, Susanne told me quite early on and it was an idea I loved, and from that moment I never questioned it. Strangely enough ... until this very moment, I have not conceived of what it would have been like with a man. I think it works beautifully."
 
He went on to explain that author le Carré himself gave them direction on the characters' dynamic. "[Pine and Burr's] exchanges were quite curt and heated, and [we had] this note from le Carré that it was much more gentle, that that relationship between them was very gentle, very compassionate, very understanding, that the agent runner has such a deep empathy for the stress of the field agent, that those conversations were almost parental, or more familial."

The series already aired to stellar ratings and reviews in the UK on the BBC. Now, American viewers are invited on the transcontinental journey as Pine tries to take down the riveting Roper with the help of Angela Burr. And if the episode and a half they showed at the Tribeca Film Festival viewing was any indication, this is going to be an exceptionally entertaining ride.

The Night Manager premieres tonight on AMC at 10/9c.

 

Images via Mitch Jenkins/AMC; Des Willie/The Ink Factory/AMC

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