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.”

Contributor

Alison Flood

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
BBC's The Watch 'shares no DNA with Terry Pratchett's work', says daughter
Rhianna Pratchett joins fans unhappy with the forthcoming TV adaptation of her father’s Discworld stories about Ankh-Morpork’s City Watch

Alison Flood

12, Oct, 2020 @3:50 PM

Article image
What's the next Game of Thrones? All the contenders for fantasy TV's crown
The saga of the Seven Kingdoms may be bowing out, but it has opened the floodgates. Here’s your guide to the next big heroes

Sarah Hughes

01, Apr, 2019 @2:43 PM

Article image
Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's Good Omens due on Amazon Prime in 2018
Gaiman has scripted all six episodes of TV adaptation of his and Pratchett’s comic novel about the end of the world, originally published in 1990

Sian Cain

19, Jan, 2017 @4:49 PM

Article image
Ralph Fiennes and Hugh Laurie join Will Ferrell's Holmes and Watson
The actors are to play as-yet-unspecified canonical roles in the comedy, which features Ferrell and John C Reilly in the leads

Catherine Shoard

06, Jan, 2017 @6:15 PM

Article image
Final Terry Pratchett stories to be published in September
Many stories in The Time-travelling Caveman – written by Pratchett when he was a journalist in the 60s and 70s – have never been published in a book

Alison Flood

07, Jul, 2020 @10:56 AM

Article image
Terry Pratchett’s debut turns 50: ‘At 17 he showed promise of a brilliant mind’
Written while he was a teenager, published when he was 23 and rewritten when he was 43, The Carpet People is being honoured with an anniversary edition

Alison Flood

20, Apr, 2021 @9:00 AM

Article image
Terry Pratchett docudrama is a fittingly imaginative tribute | Frank Cottrell Boyce
Back in Black’s inventive life story eschews the usual talking heads to focus on the author’s devoted fans – of whom I am one

Frank Cottrell Boyce

11, Feb, 2017 @9:40 PM

Article image
Terry Pratchett's 'artist of choice' on illustrating Discworld
As the Discworld Colouring Book is published, Paul Kidby, who illustrated the hugely popular novels for more than 20 years, recalls how attending a book signing changed his life

Alison Flood

18, Aug, 2016 @4:14 PM

Article image
Terry Pratchett's daughter declares The Shepherd's Crown will be the last Discworld novel
The daughter of fantasy novelist Terry Pratchett, who died in march this year, told fans: ‘I don’t intend on writing more Discworld novels, or giving anyone else permission to do so. They are sacred to dad’

Alison Flood

12, Jun, 2015 @12:02 PM

Article image
Terry Pratchett's final Discworld novel due out in September
The Shepherd’s Crown will be the 41st in the late novelist’s phenomenally successful fantasy sequence

Guardian books

07, Apr, 2015 @2:55 PM