Actor Liev Schreiber has been cast in a new, limited series based on the life of Anne Frank. The series will focus on the time Frank and her family hid from the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam, Netherlands. The story will be told from the perspective of Miep Gies, the brave Dutch woman who risked everything to hide the Frank family for two years. The series, titled A Small Light, is a National Geographic production and begins filming this summer in Prague and Amsterdam. A premiere date has not been set.
Deadline was among the first to announce the casting selections of the lead roles. Liev Schreiber will play Otto Frank, Anne’s father, and Bel Powley (The Morning Show, The King of Staten Island) has been cast in the lead role of Miep Gies, Otto’s secretary who not only hid the Frank family, but she also kept Anne’s diary after she was taken by the Nazis. After the war ended, Gies gave the diary to Otto, the only member of the Frank family to survive the concentration camps. Otto then published the diary, fulfilling Anne’s dream of becoming an author. Gies died in 2010 at the age of 100. Otto died in 1980 at the age of 91.
Joe Cole (Peaky Blinders) will star as Miep’s husband Jan, who helped her hide the Frank family and four other Jews in the “secret annex” at Otto Frank’s company. No other cast members have been announced, including the actress who plays Anne, and it appears the series will focus primarily on Bel Powley and Liev Schreiber’s characters. The series will feature eight episodes, and the title is based on a quote from Gies about her life. “I don’t like being called a hero because no one should ever think you have to be special to help others,” she said. “Even an ordinary secretary or a housewife or a teenager can turn on a small light in a dark room.” The series is written by Joan Rater and Tony Phelan, who both worked on Grey’s Anatomy. Susanna Fogel, ABC Signature and Keshet Studios also produce the series. Fogel (The Flight Attendant) will direct the pilot and several episodes.
The series is a bold choice for Disney+, as the service usually shies away from controversial or adult-oriented content. That sort of programming usually goes to Disney’s Hulu streaming service, but considering the series is likely to focus on Anne Frank’s life before she was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, the series will likely be suitable for younger viewers. Disney+ only recently added more adult fare to the service, including Marvel’s many Netflix series. Having content on Disney+ will be a new experience for Liev Schreiber: he only has one film available on the service in which his face appears: the Marvel film X-Men Origins: Wolverine, in which he played Victor Creed. His only other appearances are with his voice acting, in the film Isle of Dogs, and an episode of The Simpsons. Considering his career leans toward roles like Ray Donavan, it isn’t surprising.
Liev Schreiber boasts a solid career in both action and drama films. His most celebrated work, however, has come through television, playing the lead role in Showtime’s hit series Ray Donovan. He recently reprised the role earlier this year for a Showtime movie. He also starred in the films Spotlight, The Manchurian Candidate, Tom Clancy’s The Sum of All Fears, and Cotton Weary in Scream 2 and 3.