Jack O’Connell signs as lead in Andrew Haigh’s BBC Two series The North Water.

Bafta award-winner Jack O’Connell has signed on for the lead role in the BBC Two four-part thriller The North Water, being adapted and directed by multi award-winning Andrew Haigh (Lean on Pete, Looking, Weekend).

Based on the critically acclaimed novel from Ian McGuire, the series also starring Colin Farrell is produced by See-Saw Films for BBC Two and has been commissioned by Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, and Patrick Holland, Controller of BBC Two.

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Set in the UK and the ice floes of the Arctic in the late 1850s, The North Water tells the story of Patrick Sumner (O’Connell), a disgraced ex-army surgeon who signs up as ship’s doctor on a whaling expedition to the Arctic. On board he meets Henry Drax (Farrell), the harpooner, a brutish killer whose amorality has been shaped to fit the harshness of his world. Hoping to escape the horrors of his past, Sumner finds himself on an ill-fated journey with a murderous psychopath. In search of redemption, his story becomes a harsh struggle for survival in the Arctic wasteland.

Andrew Haigh says: “Jack is a fiercely instinctual actor who brings nuance and complexity to every character he plays. I can’t wait to see him bring Patrick Sumner to life.”

Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, says: “Jack is one of the most fearless and instinctive actors of his generation and is the perfect choice to bring The North Water’s troubled and ambiguous hero to life.”

“Jack is one of the most exciting young actors working today,” adds See-Saw Films’ COO Hakan Kousetta and Head of Television Jamie Laurenson.

“He elevates each project he’s been a part of, so it’s no surprise he’s received so much attention and acclaim. We’re thrilled to have him on board.”

This gripping and original novel of murder, mystery and survival has topped critic’s lists around the world and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and named A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice. The story is being brought to life by See-Saw Films, firmly established for delivering multi award winning mini-series and working with extraordinary writers and directors such as Jane Campion for Top of the Lake and Top of the Lake: China Girl.

Bafta award-winning British actor Jack O’Connell next stars opposite Laura Dern in Roadside Attraction’s Trial By Fire. Later this year he stars opposite Kristen Stewart in Against All Enemies and opposite Charlie Hunnam in Jungleland. O’Connell first found fame as the hard-living James Cook on the E4 teen series Skins which was followed by other lead roles in the television dramas Dive and United. He then acted in a myriad of films including co-starring in Eden Lake, Harry Brown, and Private Peaceful leading up to his critically acclaimed performances in the independent films Starred Up and '71. Later, O’Connell made his Hollywood debut as Greek soldier, Calisto, in the action-war film, 300: Rise of An Empire before his multi award-winning performance as World War II POW, Louis Zamperini, in the Angelina Jolie directed drama, Unbroken. Since then he has starred in multiple projects including Jodie Fosters’ Money Monster alongside George Clooney and Julia Roberts and TV mini series Godless alongside Michelle Dockery.