Hugh Laurie to star as Maurice, Terry Pratchett's streetwise tomcat

Actor will head all-star cast for animated version of the beloved author’s novel for children The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents

Hugh Laurie is to star as Maurice, a streetwise tomcat, in an animated film adaptation from Sky of one of Terry Pratchett’s best-loved novels, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents.

The film has the support of Pratchett’s estate, and is produced in association with Narrativia, Pratchett’s production company. This sits in contrast to BBC America and BBC Studios’ forthcoming adaptation of Pratchett’s books about Ankh-Morpork’s City Watch, The Watch, which Pratchett’s daughter Rhianna Pratchett has said “shares no DNA with my father’s Watch”.

The Amazing Maurice was the 28th novel in Pratchett’s Discworld series, but the first written for children. It was also the first novel for which he won a major award, taking the Carnegie medal in 2002. A twist on the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, it follows the story of Maurice, who with a group of talking rats, and a flute-owning boy, Keith, travels from town to town, infesting the streets with rats before charging the citizens to remove them. But when the troupe arrive in the town of Bad Blintz – so named, according to Maurice, because it has a bath its people are very proud of – they discover something evil.

Sky will release an animated version of the book in 2022, with Laurie as Maurice, Emilia Clarke as Malicia, the daughter of Bad Blintz’s mayor, Himesh Patel as Keith, Gemma Arterton as Peaches, one of the rats, and Hugh Bonneville as the mayor. The film will be co-produced by Sky, Ulysses Filmproduktion and Cantilever Media, with animation studios Studio Rakete and Red Star Animation .

“I’m huge fan of Sir Terry Pratchett, so I would not be embarking on this project unless I felt we were bringing the film to life in a way that honours the book and will please its numerous fans around the world,” said Cantilever’s producer and chief executive Andrew Baker.

Narrativia’s managing director Rob Wilkins, the late Pratchett’s friend and assistant, said that “bringing Maurice’s story to life was such a joy for Terry”, and expressed his delight that the production companies were “honouring his vision with such reverence and respect”.

Pratchett always said that the Carnegie he won for The Amazing Maurice was the prize he was most proud of, despite his numerous awards, degrees and knighthood. Accepting the medal in 2002, the author said he was “delighted and genuinely shocked … because Maurice isn’t just fantasy but funny fantasy, too”, and “it’s nice to see humour taken seriously”.

“You can tell that Maurice is a fantasy because it looks like one. It has rats that are intelligent,” he said. “But it seems to me even more fantastic that in the book there are humans that are intelligent as well. Far more beguiling to me than the idea that evil can be destroyed by throwing a piece of expensive costume jewellery into a volcano [as in Tolkien] is the possibility that peace between nations can be maintained by careful diplomacy.”


Alison Flood

The GuardianTramp

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