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Former Kiwi/French couple to star in TV adaptation of Wgtn-published Booker blockbuster

New Zealand actor Marton Csokas will star alongside French star Eva Green in a six-part series based on Eleanor Catton’s Booker-prize winning VUP novel The Luminaries, as part of a comprehensive rebrand of BBC Two.

Marton Csokas, one of only two people on the International Movie Data Base with that first name, and the only one with his surname, is best known to New Zealanders over 25 as iconic Shortland Street character Dr Leonard Ralph Carlton Rossi-Dodds.

Over two years in the mid-90s he held the eccentric doctor role, dating equally eccentric character Gina Rossi, before leaving the series, coming back to reclaim her from Hone Ropata (Temuera Morrison), getting married, moving to the USA, returning to be best man and bridesmaid to legendary couple Lionel and Kirsty, then leaving forever in 1995.

(Though on Shortland Street, who can be sure of the future?)

Now he will take the key role of Francis Carver in the adaptation of Eleanor Catton’s 2013 novel The Luminaries, set in New Zealand’s South Island against the backdrop of the 1860s gold rush. Published by Victoria University Press,The Luminaries won the Booker Prize for the youngest novelist (28) writing the longest book (832 page in the award’s history.

Csokas has had a good run in three huge franchise films: Lord of the Rings (as elven bore Lord Celeborn); The Bourne Supremacy (as CIA stooge Jarda, killed in an explosion after Bourne used a rolled-up magazine to best him); and Star Wars (uncredited voice character Poggle the Lesser in Vol II), plus roles in Abraham Lincoln: Bounty Hunter, Alice in Wonderland and Noah.

He’s always been busy, but theatre roles rule.

Csokas cut his theatrical teeth on stage at Taki Rua in Wellington in 1990. He moved into unmemorable NZ movies (Jack Brown Genius, Broken English) before his iconic TV role as Leonard Dodds for two of the golden years of NZ’s greatest soap opera.

He comes to The Luminaries series, after a three-month Broadway run as Steven in Beau Willimon’s play The Parisian Woman, starring Uma Thurman.

The six-part series of The Luminaries, starring Csokas’ former wife Eva Green as Lydia Wells and Eve Hewson as Anna Wetherell, will be produced for BBC Two, which is working with Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker to develop new programmes in the first rebrand of the channel in 25 years,

Csokas met French actor Eva Green while filming Kingdom of Heaven in 2005 and married her in 2008, before divorcing in 2009.

Green starred opposite Daniel Craig in the 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale, and in Tim Burton’s largely derided 2009 film Dark Shadows with Johnny Depp, and has been romantically linked with Burton since 2015.

She has been mentioned as a possible female lead for Burton’s live-action remake of the perfect 1941 Disney animated classic Dumbo, which featured no female characters, apart from Dumbo’s mother and other elephants.