Keira Knightley Exits Apple TV+'s The Essex Serpent 'Due to Family Reasons' amid COVID-19

Keira Knightley Exits Apple TV+'s The Essex Serpent 'Due to Family Reasons' amid COVID-19

10/12/2020

Keira Knightley will no longer be starring in Apple TV+'s The Essex Serpent.

The British star, 35, has exited the streaming service's original series "due to family reasons" amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, her rep said in a statement to PEOPLE.

"Keira had to unfortunately pull out of The Essex Serpent due to family reasons," the statement reads. "As the COVID cases increase in the U.K. and additional lockdown and restriction rules are potentially being imposed, with so many unknowns, there wasn’t a comfortable scenario for Keira that could be put in place for an extended period of child care required for the 4.5-month production."

Knightley is married to husband James Righton, with whom she shares daughters Delilah, 1, and Edie, 5.

It was reported in August that the Love Actually actress would star in and executive-produce the project, in which she was set to play Cora Seaborne. The series is an adaptation based on Sarah Perry's 2017 novel of the same name.

Set in late 19-century England, the book follows Cora, whose "brilliant, domineering husband dies," according to its description. When he passes, "she steps into her new life as a widow with as much relief as sadness: her marriage was not a happy one. Wed at nineteen, this woman of exceptional intelligence and curiosity was ill-suited for the role of society wife. Seeking refuge in fresh air and open space in the wake of the funeral, Cora leaves London for a visit to coastal Essex, accompanied by her inquisitive and obsessive eleven-year old son, Francis, and the boy’s nanny, Martha, her fiercely protective friend."

"While admiring the sites, Cora learns of an intriguing rumor that has arisen further up the estuary, of a fearsome creature said to roam the marshes claiming human lives. After nearly 300 years, the mythical Essex Serpent is said to have returned, taking the life of a young man on New Year’s Eve. A keen amateur naturalist with no patience for religion or superstition, Cora is immediately enthralled, and certain that what the local people think is a magical sea beast may be a previously undiscovered species. Eager to investigate, she is introduced to local vicar William Ransome. Will, too, is suspicious of the rumors. But unlike Cora, this man of faith is convinced the rumors are caused by moral panic, a flight from true belief," the description reads.

"These seeming opposites who agree on nothing soon find themselves inexorably drawn together and torn apart—an intense relationship that will change both of their lives in ways entirely unexpected," it ends.

Last month, Knightley gave some rare insight into her life as a mom during an appearance on The Tonight Show, discussing how she and her family have been faring during the pandemic. Baby Deliliah threw her parents for a loop when she skipped the crawling phase altogether.

"We went into lockdown when she was about 6 months [old], so she's had a very strange life," Knightley told host Jimmy Fallon. "And that sort of involved my then-4-year-old, who turned 5 in lockdown, running around [her baby sister] a lot, because we couldn't go out."

"The baby, who I thought would be [sitting] and very easy to look after for quite a while, at 9 months, just decided to get up and start walking," she added.

As for Edie, her previous PAW Patrol obsession is gone and has been replaced with something a little closer to home: The Beatles!

"It's fun, but it's really obsessive," Knightley told Fallon, 46. "The films aren't that great, but we watch the films on a loop. … She literally knows all the words to [A] Hard Day's Night."

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