'Downton Abbey' creator Julian Fellowes to adapt 'Wind in the Willows'

Wind In The Willows (Credit: Cosgrove Hall)
Wind In The Willows (Credit: Cosgrove Hall)

British writer Julian Fellowes is to adapt classic children's novel The Wind In The Willows for the big screen.

According to Screen Daily, Fellowes, writer of Robert Altman's Gosford Park and creator of Downton Abbey, will collaborate with Schindler's List producer Gerald R. Molen on the movie, with Ray Griggs directing.

Peter Jackson's special effects studio Weta is also said to be on board, with filming also set to take place at Jackson's studio in Wellington, New Zealand.

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Fellowes is already familiar with the text, having adapted it for the 2016 West End musical production.

First published in 1908, it followed the adventures of mild mannered riverside dwelling Mole and Ratty, and their friends, the grumpy Badger and extrovert aristocrat Toad.

FILE - In this Sept. 16, 2019, file photo writer-producer Julian Fellowes attends the premiere of "Downton Abbey," at Alice Tully Hall in New York. “Belgravia,” set in the grand London neighborhood of that name, was adapted by Fellowes from his eponymous 2016 novel. Asked to compare the series to “Downton Abbey,” the hit TV drama that unfolded in the early 1900s, Fellowes said the projects reflect the periods in which they’re set. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Julian Fellowes (Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

“We are finalising some of the finest actors to lend their creative and vocal talents,” said producer Molen.

“We could not have dreamed of a better writer and creative force than Julian Fellowes to work with Ray Griggs to bring to life the classic English novel’s characters, nor finer visionaries than WETA to capture the look and feel of Grahame’s world.”

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Grahame's tales have been brought to the screen many times in the past.

Animation studio Cosgrove Hall made a stop-motion adaptation in 1983, with David Jason, Ian Carmichael, and Michael Hordern voicing the lead characters, which was then made into a 52-episode TV series.

More recently it was made into a TV film in 2006 by the BBC, starring Matt Lucas as Mr. Toad, the late Bob Hoskins as Badger, Mark Gatiss as Ratty, and Lee Ingleby as Mole.