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Molly Parker, Brian J. Smith, Stephen Mchattie, Finlay Wojtak-Hissong, And Kevin Durand Lead Cast Of Essex County

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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 Emmy®-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.

BIOS/CREDITS

Showrunner/EP/writer Jeff Lemire is the award winning, New York Times bestselling author of such graphic novels as Sweet Tooth, Essex County, Underwater Welder, and Mazebook as well as co-creator of Black Hammer, Gideon Falls, Descender, The Bone Orchard, and many others. He has worked extensively for both Marvel and DC Comics and his graphic novels have been translated into dozens of languages, establishing him as one of the most prolific and celebrated comic book creators of his generation. Many of his books are in development including Descender at NBC Universal with Lemire attached as an executive producer. Sweet Tooth has been adapted into a popular Netflix original series produced by Susan and Robert Downey Jr., and Essex County is currently in post-production with Lemire writing, show-running, and producing.

EP/Writer Eilis Kirwan is an award-winning writer from Dublin, Ireland, where she began writing plays at University College Dublin. She came to the U.S. as a Fulbright scholar, and received her MFA in Film from Columbia University. Her graduating film, Nostradamus And Me, was a finalist for the Student Academy Awards. Kirwan went on to co-write the award-winning The Whistleblower, starring Rachel Weisz and Vanessa Redgrave, which premiered at TIFF in 2011. Kirwan has written and developed multiple features, pilots, and mini-series in addition to working as a supervising producer and writer on Nurses for Global/NBC.

EP/Director Andrew Cividino is a writer, director, and producer from Toronto. He began his career directing commercials and short films that garnered international recognition after winning prizes at TIFF and Locarno. Cividino’s debut feature, Sleeping Giant, opened the competition at the 2015 edition of Semaine de la Critique in Cannes. The film went on to win more than a dozen awards, including prizes at TIFF, VIFF, Munich, and Mumbai. He was named TIFF’s Artist in Residence and was a frequent director on Schitt’s Creek, for which he won an Emmy® for Outstanding Achievement for Direction in 2020.

Molly Parker (Anne) is an Emmy® and SAG® award-nominated actress and director known for such series as House of Cards, Deadwood, Lost in Space, Dexter, and the soon to be released The Accused. Features include Pieces of a Woman, Jockey, The Center of the World, Kissed, and the soon to be released Peter and Wendy and The Mothership.

Brian J. Smith (Ken) is known for his role as Will Gorski in Netflix’s Sense8; Lt. Matthew Scott in the Syfy series Stargate Universe; and for his Tony Award®-nominated turn as Jim O’Connor in the 2013 revival of The Glass Menagerie on Broadway.

Stephen McHattie (Lou) is a prolific Canadian actor who has amassed more than 200 film and television credits including Orphan Black, Emily of New Moon, Cold Squad, Seinfeld, and many more. He won a Genie Award (CSA) for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in The Rocket and a Gemini Award for Life with Billy.

Finlay Wojtak-Hissong (Lester) began his acting career at the age of eight and is known for The Kindness of Stranges, Blood, Dreamkatcher, and Robin Wright’s feature directorial debut Land.

Kevin Durand (Jimmy) can be seen in Locke & Key, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Resident Evil: Retribution, Ballers, Robin Hood, and Lost. He recently starred in Swamp Thing and it was just announced that Durand has joined the cast of Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.

Commissioned by CBC, and produced in association with ITV Studios and Media Musketeers Studios, Essex County is executive produced by Jeff Lemire, Eilis Kirwan, Christina Piovesan, and Andrew Cividino. Jeff Lemire is the showrunner; the series is written by Jeff Lemire and Eilis Kirwan; Andrew Cividino is the director. For CBC, Sally Catto is General Manager, Entertainment, Factual, and Sports; Trish Williams is Executive Director, Scripted Content; Sarah Adams is Director, Current Productions, Drama. ITV Studios handles international distribution.