It's a tense moment when the author arrives on the set. The cast and crew are afraid he will be picky and say: "That character has brown eyes, not green—you've ruined my masterpiece!" The author worries that the producers may have changed the story too much, perhaps transposing it from medieval England to the Wild West.
I'm happy to report that director Sergio Mimica-Gezzan and screenwriter John Pielmeier are working miracles in recreating The Pillars of the Earth
faithfully for television.
For 20 years, Kingsbridge has existed only in the imagination—mine, and that of millions of readers. But today it has been built, on two huge lots on the outskirts of Budapest, Hungary. Here are the dirty medieval streets, the hovels the people live in, the bakeries and smithies and wool stores—and, of course, the half-finished cathedral.
Everything is lovingly made and painstakingly detailed. I was astonished to come across a medieval loom that seemed to me to be completely authentic. People kept asking me: "Do you like it?" Of course I like it. I dreamed it, and now it's real.
Most thrilling of all is the cast of first-class actors, many of whom I have seen and admired before. Prior Philip is played by Matthew Macfadyen
, whom I last saw as Prince Hal in Shakespeare's Henry IV
at the Royal National Theatre in London. Philip's nemesis, the manipulative Bishop Waleran Bigod, is Ian McShane
, unforgettable in Deadwood
. Jack is played by a young actor everyone is talking about, Eddie Redmayne
, and his great love, Aliena, is Hayley Atwell
, who was so wonderful in The Duchess
.Find out what role Ken Follett is playing in The Pillars of the Earth!