Several of my novels have been made into movies or TV mini-series, and I fulfilled a life-long dream of appearing in front of a movie camera, with a small role in two of them. I am also the executive producer of South African-made films White Wedding and Paradise Stop.
Fall of Giants TV mini-series
The ABC network and Sony Pictures Television are developing a ten-hour TV series based on Fall of Giants. The script will be developed by Ann Peacock (The Dovekeepers, Chronicles of Narnia). The executive producers are Michael De Luca (Fifty Shades of Grey, The Social Network) and Stephanie Germain (The Day After Tomorrow, Lifetime's Nora Roberts movies).
World Without End
The $46 million eight-hour miniseries of World Without End aired in Canada on Showcase in September, in the United States on the Reelz channel in October 2012, and has been screened in several other countries.
Principal cast members include Cynthia Nixon as Petranilla, Miranda Richardson as Mother Cecilia, Ben Chaplin as Sir Thomas Langley, Peter Firth as Earl Roland, Charlotte Riley as Caris and Tom Weston-Jones as Merthin.
Also cast are Rupert Evans as Godwyn, Nora von Waldstätten as Gwenda, Oliver Jackson-Cohen as Ralph, Megan Follows as Maud, and Sarah Gadon as Philippa.
Michael Caton-Jones directed from a script by John Pielmeier, who also adapted The Pillars of the Earth.
The series is produced by Tandem Communications and Take 5 Productions in coproduction with Galafilms and in association with Ridley Scott and Tony Scott’s Scott Free Films. Tandem and Scott Free also produced the eight-hour adaptation of The Pillars of the Earth.
The Pillars of the Earth
The eight-hour limited series of The Pillars of the Earth premiered in the United States on the Starz channel in July 2011.
Ian McShane, Donald Sutherland, Rufus Sewell, Matthew Macfadyen, Sarah Parish, Hayley Atwell as Aliena, Eddie Redmayne and Gordon Pinsent headlined the star-studded cast for the US$40-million adaptation.
The series was directed by Sergio Mimica-Gezzan (Heroes, Saving Grace, Into the West), and has been adapted by award-winning writer John Pielmeier (Emmy winner Hitler – The Rise of Evil and Emmy nominated The Memory Keeper’s Daughter), who also played the role of ‘Cuthbert’. Ken had a small role as a merchant.
The series was produced by Emmy and Golden Globe nominated Tandem Communications (Ring of the Nibelungs, Impact, Lost City Raiders) and multi award-winning Muse Entertainment (Human Trafficking, Tales from the Neverending Story, Durham County) in association with Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globe nominated Scott Free Films (CBS’s series Numb3rs, Emmy nominated minis The Andromeda Strain and The Company).
Journey into the Dark Ages
Ken hosts a thrilling historical documentary, the first of its kind on television. He introduces a docu-drama about the Dark Ages and the characters that inspired The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End.
He provides an intimate glimpse into the world of his imagination and the extraordinary characters who have inspired him – women such as Hildegard von Bingen, who advocated new approaches to healing and medicine or Marguerite Porete, who in 1295, challenged the hegemony of the Church with a revolutionary book.
Journey Into The Dark Ages, produced by Tandem Communications, is divided into two parts of approximately 45 minutes each, covering Great Women of the Middle Ages and The Black Death.
The trailer for Ken Follett’s ‘Journey into the Dark Ages’, courtsey of Reelz.
Paradise Stop is the second film from writer/director Jann Turner and South Africa stars Kenneth Nkosi and Rapulana Seiphemo, after the huge success of their debut feature White Wedding. Ken is the executive producer.
Set in a small South African town, Paradise Stop is an hilarious high-speed action comedy which centres on lives of two ‘big men’, the best of friends, but who work on opposite sides of the law. It pits the honest hardworking Detective Potso Mogopudi (Rapulana Seiphemo), a good cop in a rotten system, against a host of small town crooks and big city sharks.
His friend, Ben Khumalo (Kenneth Nkosi) is the owner of the ‘Paradise Stop’ Truck Stop. This is the meeting place for longhaul carriers travelling across the border and while – on the surface – Ben’s establishment is as sharp and clean as one of his suits, round the back and under the table there are all kinds of dodgy dealings.
Paradise Stop is peopled with a cast of eccentric characters – the arrogant mayor, a spirited small-time gangster’s lackey, an easily beguiled desk sergeant, a simple-minded swimming pool maintenance man, and a feisty, sexy security investigator – who all become embroiled in a madcap comedy of errors.
The Making of Paradise Stop
2009. Ken is the executive producer and his step-daughter Jann Turner the director of this South African comedy. White Wedding stars South African actors Kenneth Nkosi and Rapulana Seiphemo (both of whom co-wrote and co-produced the film with Jann) and English actress Jodie Whittaker.
The film tells the story of two friends, Elvis (Kenneth Nkosi) and Tumi (Rapulana Seiphemo), who are heading from Johannesburg to Cape Town for Elvis’s wedding. Along the way, the pair meet Rose (Jodie Whittaker) – a young English doctor who has fled the altar after finding that her fiancée was serially unfaithful to her. The unlikely trio hit the road together but things don’t go according to plan…
White Wedding was chosen as joint winner of the Audience Award for World Cinema at the Mill Valley Film Festival (along with An Education, by Lone Scherfig) in October 2009.
Other novels in film
A Dangerous Fortune
2015. Directed by Christian Schwochow. Starring Dominic Thorburn as Hugh Pilaster, Yvonne Catterfeld as Nora Pilaster, Stephanie Stumph as Aprll, Luca Marinelli as Mickey Miranda, and Axel Milberg as Samuel Pilaster..
2010. Directed by Peter Keglevic. Starring Heiner Lauterbach as Stanley Oxenford, Isabella Ferrari as Toni Gallo, Tom Schilling as Kit Oxenford, Matthias Brandt as Nigel Malone, Anneke Kim Sarnau as Daisy Mac, Bülent Sharif as Elton and Katharina Wackernagel as Mandy.
The Third Twin
1997. Directed by Tom McLoughlin. Starring Kelly McGillis as Dr. Jeannie Ferami, Jason Gedrick as Steve Logan and Larry Hagman as Berrington Jones. Also released as Ken Follett’s The Third Twin.
Lie Down with Lions
1994. Directed by Jim Goddard. Starring Timothy Dalton as Jack Carver. Also released as Red Eagle.
On Wings of Eagles
1986. A five-hour TV mini-series. Directed by Andrew McLaglen. Starring Burt Lancaster as Lieutenant Colonel Arthur E. ‘Bull’ Simons, Richard Crenna as H. Ross Perot and Paul Le Mat as Jay Coburn. With Louis Giambalvo, Jim Metzler and Lawrence Pressman.
The Key to Rebecca
1985. Directed by David Hemmings. Starring Cliff Robertson as Major William Vandam, David Soul as Alex Wolff, Season Hubley as Elene Fontana and Anthony Quayle as Abdullah.
Eye of the Needle
1981. Directed by Richard Marquand. Screenplay by Stanley Mann. Starring Donald Sutherland as Faber and Kate Nelligan as Lucy. With Stephen MacKenna, Philip Martin Brown and Christopher Cazenove. It was nominated as Best Motion Picture in the 1982 Edgar Allan Poe Awards.
I had the opportunity to act in two of my own works, appearing as the ‘manservant’ in The Third Twin and as a merchant in The Pillars of the Earth.
You can find out more about any of these films at the Internet Movie Database.