Zoe Kazan is writing and executive producing a new adaptation of John Steinbeck’s masterpiece East of Eden, with Florence Pugh set to star and co-produce. Deadline reports that Netflix nabbed the rights to the project after a competitive bidding war.
East of Eden has been adapted to film once before, in 1955 in what was James Dean’s first major film role. That movie was directed by Hollywood legend Elia Kazan who is, you guessed it, Zoe’s grandfather. So that might look like nepotism from a distance but fortunately, the younger Kazan has proved herself to be a gifted writer on her own merits, writing the script for 2018’s excellent Wildlife, which was directed by her longtime romantic partner Paul Dano. So, if nepotism is going to work, it might as well elevate genuinely talented people,.
Deadline says that her adaptation will be a “limited series” and will “explore themes of trauma and repair; love and betrayal; duty and free will,” as fans of the book already know. Pugh will star as the cruel, manipulative Cathy, who becomes involved with the Trasks and the Hamiltons, two Salinas Valley families whose adventures take on the biblical parallels suggested by Steinbeck’s title.
“I fell in love with East of Eden when I first read it, in my teens. Since then, adapting Steinbeck’s novel — the great, sprawling, three-generational entirety of it — has been my dream. More than anything, I have wanted to give full expression to the novel’s astonishing, singular antiheroine, Cathy Ames,” Kazan said in a statement. “Florence Pugh is our dream Cathy; I can’t imagine a more thrilling actor to bring this character to life. Writing this limited series over the last two years has been the creative highpoint of my life.”
Pugh is one of the busiest actors out there right now. Her next project is Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry, Darling, after which you’ll be able to see her in Netflix’s The Wonder, Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, Denis Villeneuve’s Dune sequel and her various forays in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the Black Widow’s kid sister Yelena.