SXSW attendees this weekend were treated to the world premiere of Showtime’s new sci-fi series, The Man Who Fell to Earth, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor as an alien who comes to Earth in hopes of saving the people on his home planet. The network followed up that premiere by releasing a sneak peek at the pilot episode’s first five minutes.
As we reported previously, the new TV series is based on the classic 1963 novel by Walter Tevis, which already spawned an iconic 1973 film adaptation featuring rock star David Bowie as the titular alien. Developed and written by Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet, it began as a project for Hulu before moving to CBS All Access (which has since been absorbed into Paramount+). Showtime will air the series in the US, with Paramount+ carrying it internationally. Per the official logline, “The Man Who Fell to Earth will follow a new alien character (Ejiofor) who arrives on Earth at a turning point in human evolution and must confront his own past to determine our future.”
The TV adaptation introduces some clear deviations from the source material, starting with Ejiofor’s character, an alien named Faraday. Bill Nighy plays Thomas Jerome Newton, the character Bowie played. (He even sports a similar dashing hat.) Naomie Harris co-stars as Justin Falls, described as “a brilliant scientist and engineer who must conquer her own demons in the race to save two worlds.” She has a young son who bonds with Faraday. The cast also includes Westworld‘s Jimmi Simpson as Spencer Clay; Rob Delaney as Hatch Flood; Sonya Cassidy as Edie Flood; Joana Ribeiro as Lisa Dominguez; Annelle Olaleye as Molly Falls; Josh Herdman as Terry; and Kate Mulgrew as Drew Finch.
The official trailer dropped last month and focused on Faraday making Justin’s acquaintance. The first five minutes show us Faraday presumably much later into his tenure on Earth. He has become a tech billionaire in the vein of Steve Jobs, thanks (one presumes) to patenting some of that sweet alien technology. (That’s certainly how Thomas amassed his wealth in the novel and 1973 film, in hopes of using the funds to build spaceships to transport his people.)
The opening five minutes are basically the equivalent of an Apple showcase event, culminating with Faraday introducing a mysterious black cube. Ejiofor is pitch-perfect as he delivers his speech about adapting to survive, climbing out of a hole, and so forth, which the audience seems to think is a metaphor. But those scenes are intercut with flashbacks of Faraday’s fiery arrival, where he really does put on a new skin and claw his way out of a deep hole. We even get a brief glimpse of yellow reptilian alien eyes gazing out of the darkness.
The Man Who Fell to Earth drops April 24, 2022 on Showtime in the US and on Paramount+ internationally. Color us curious to see how Kurtzman and Lumet have reimagined this iconic piece of science fiction for the 21st century.
Listing image by YouTube/Showtime