Keira Knightley has dropped out of Apple TV+ drama The Essex Serpent.
She was lined up to play the lead role in the streaming service’s adaptation of Sarah Perry’s 2016 novel, which follows a widow named Cora who relocates to Essex with her young son and becomes intrigued by a local superstition that a mythical creature has returned to the area.
However, a representative for the actress has confirmed she “had to unfortunately pull out” of the role for “family reasons”.
Filming on the project, which was due to begin next month, has now been put on hold.
Concerns about childcare amid the coronavirus pandemic and rolling lockdown restrictions are thought to have prompted Keira to quit the series.
“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,” her representative added.
It’s unknown whether Keira will remain as an executive producer for the show, which is now looking for a new lead actress.
The Essex Serpent will be directed by Clio Barnard (Dark River) and is written by Anna Symon (Mrs Wilson).
It’s thought Keira will still make her TV return in Hulu period drama The Other Typist.
The suspense-thriller is set in New York during the prohibition era and follows two female colleagues who turn on each other following a terrible crime.