'East of Eden': Florence Pugh to play Cathy in Zoe Kazan's adaptation of classic novel

'East of Eden': Florence Pugh to play Cathy in Zoe Kazan's adaptation of classic novel
Florence Pugh (L) will star in the new Netflix series that will be written by Zoe Kazan (R) (Getty Images)

Netflix is developing a new limited series adaptation of John Steinbeck’s classic novel 'East of Eden'. Published in 1952, Steinbeck’s 'East of Eden' is set in California’s Salinas Valley over a period that stretches from the Civil War to the end of World War 1. The epic novel tells the interconnected stories of the Hamilton family—an Irish immigrant family with nine children—and the Trask family, led by the wealthy Adam Trask. The story later mainly focuses and is centered around the Trask family and the drama surrounding Adam, his wife Cathy, and their sons Cal and Aron.

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The Netflix series, which is still in early development, will be written and executive produced by Emmy-nominated actress Zoe Kazan, whose grandfather, Elia Kazan, directed the 1955 film adaptation of Steinbeck’s novel. However, Elia Kazan’s film adaptation only partially adapted the original novel, focusing on the final section of the book with Cal and Aron as teenagers. The film is popular for starring James Dean in his first major screen role as Cal, alongside Julie Harris, Raymond Massey, Richard Davalos, and Jo Van Fleet. The film was critically acclaimed and was nominated for four Academy Awards, including best picture, with Fleet winning best-supporting actress for her role as Cathy.

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Florence Pugh is cast as Cathy Ames

Florence Pugh will be starring in the Netflix series and will play Cathy Ames, the role played by Jo Van Fleet in the 1955 film. “I fell in love with East of Eden when I first read it, in my teens,” Zoe Kazan said. “Since then, adapting Steinbeck’s novel — the great, sprawling, three-generational entirety of it — has been my dream. More than anything, I have wanted to give full expression to the novel’s astonishing, singular antiheroine, Cathy Ames. Florence Pugh is our dream Cathy; I can’t imagine a more thrilling actor to bring this character to life," Kazan added.

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Florence Pugh attends the 92nd Oscars Nominees Luncheon on January 27, 2020 in Hollywood, California.(Getty Images)

Florence Pugh is best known for her critically acclaimed performance as Yelena Belova in 'Black Widow' (2021), a role she reprised in the Disney+ series 'Hawkeye'. Her other film credits include 'Midsommar' (2019) and 'Little Women' (2019), which earned Pugh an Oscar nomination for best-supporting actress. She is also slated to appear in Christopher Nolan's  'Oppenheimer', and in the upcoming Olivia Wilde-helmed 'Don't Worry Darling' with actors Chris Pine and Harry Styles.

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Fans on Twitter shared their excitement about Pugh's casting in the Netflix series. One fan tweeted "I love Florence Pugh, I can never remember her name, but she's a great actor. East of Eden sounds right up her street. I don't know who's playing Cal Trask." "FLORENCE PUGH AND EAST OF EDEN I JUST WANNA SCREAMMMMMM THIS IS EVEN BETTER THAN JAMES DEAN" another fan tweeted. "An East of Eden series on Netflix with Florence Pugh as Cathy??? I’m so in" one commented. "There’s going to be a East of Eden series?? Like Florence Pugh gives me a bit of hope but I don’t know I just really don’t want them to ruin this book for me," another fan pointed.

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Anonymous Content and Endeavor Content will co-produce the series. The limited series adaptation will explore the novel’s themes of trauma and repair; love and betrayal; duty and free will. The series will sketch an intimate portrait of the Trask family against the backdrop of huge historical forces. The Netflix series will also mark Kazan’s first major TV writing credit.

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In terms of her acting career, she is set to star in the 'She Said', where she will play Jodi Kantor, one of the New York Times reporters who broke the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault allegations story that led to the studio head’s downfall and ultimately helped jump-start the #MeToo movement.

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