Keira Knightley pulls out of Apple TV+ drama at short notice over coronavirus concerns

Actress Keira Knightley poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the 'Official Secrets' which is screened as part of the London Film Festival, in central London, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. (Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP)
Keira Knightley (Credit: Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP)

Keira Knightley has pulled out of The Essex Serpent, the upcoming drama series for Apple TV+, over 'family reasons' relating to coronavirus, according to reports.

The series, which was to adapt the 2016 novel of the same name by Sarah Perry, and which was due to start filming in six weeks, is now on hiatus, according to Variety.

A representative for Knightley told the Daily Mail that due to the increasing number of coronavirus infections 'there wasn’t a comfortable scenario for Keira that could be put in place for an extended period of childcare required for the four-and-a-half-month production'.

Knightley has two children with her musician husband James Righton.

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Set in 1893, the Pirates of the Caribbean star was set to play Cora, a widowed woman recently freed from an abusive relationship who moves from London to the village of Aldwinter in the Essex countryside with her young son.

There, she becomes fixated on the local superstition of a serpent, which is said to have returned to the area.

PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 03: Keira Knightley and James Righton attend the Chanel Cruise Collection 2020 : Front Row at Le Grand Palais on May 03, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images)
Keira Knightley and James Righton attend the Chanel Cruise Collection 2020 in Paris, France. (Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images)

Knightley was also set to executive produce the project, which is being directed by Clio Barnard, prior to her exit.

The show is being made by Apple with See-Saw Films, which was behind movies like Lion, Chris Morris’s The Day Shall Come, and The King's Speech.