Cary Fukunaga & Nicole Kassell Adapting Last of the Mohicans Into TV Show
Filmmakers Cary Fukunaga and Nicole Kassell will adapt The Last of the Mohicans for Paramount TV. In Michael Mann’s 1992 feature film adaptation, Daniel Day-Lewis starred in the main role. In recent years, Kassell has directed episodes of Westworld and Castle Rock, along with the upcoming Watchmen pilot, and Fukunaga is currently filming Bond 25.
Mann’s The Last of the Mohicans is well-known in pop culture, but it’s based on James Fenimore Cooper’s 1826 novel of the same name. The story is set in 1757, and examines the French and Indian War, otherwise known as the Seven Years’ War. In Mann’s version - which is also based on Philip Dunne’s screenplay for George B. Seitz’s 1936 film The Last of the Mohicans - the aforementioned Day-Lewis portrays Hawkeye aka Nathan Poe, a fictional interpretation of the Natty Bumppo character from Cooper’s original "Leatherstocking Tales" series, which includes The Last of the Mohicans. Produced for $40 million, Mann’s big screen adaption earned over $75 at the box office, and received mostly positive reviews. Alongside Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe co-stars as Cora Munro, Russell Means portrays Chingachgook, and Eric Schweig appears as Uncas.
Per Variety, Fukunaga and Kassell will collaborate for a new take on The Last of the Mohicans story. Their television series will be faithful to Cooper’s original narrative, which centers on the characters Cora - the mixed-race daughter of a British colonel - and the Mohican Uncas. Kassell will direct the pilot episode, and Fukunaga co-wrote the screenplay with Nicholas Osborne. All three will co-produce The Last of the Mohicans.
As for Kassell, her official statement touches upon the series’ potential to retell the original story, but with more character perspectives:
I am profoundly excited to be a part of this extraordinary team and to be bringing a new light and perspective to this period in our history. While the James Fenimore Cooper book and original film leave large shoes to fill, Nick and Cary’s script is a riveting read and fresh take. They embrace this incredible opportunity to show and explore characters so often marginalized.
While The Last of the Mohicans marks Osborne’s first filmmaking credit, Fukunaga has accumulated a vast resume over the past decade. In 2015, Fukunaga released the feature film Beasts of No Nation, a war drama that he wrote, directed, co-produced, and even filmed. In 2017, Fukunaga wrote the screenplay for the Stephen King adaptation It, and he also directed the first season of HBO’s True Detective. For Netflix’s 2018 limited series Maniac, Fukunaga served as the writer, director, and executive producer. Last September, Fukunaga was hired for Bond 25 after Danny Boyle left the film due to creative differences.
For the new spin on The Last of the Mohicans, Kassell’s inclusion as director is especially intriguing. She’s directed episodes of high-profile television shows like The Americans, and she's helmed many shows with supernatural themes, so it will be thrilling to see how she addresses the spiritual elements of Cooper’s story. And with Fukunaga writing, The Last of the Mohicans could be a real mind-trip - a series that will undoubtedly be violent, but also viscerally entertaining and diverse.