Look at them now! Following the critical acclaim of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Daisy Jones and the Six, Prime Video brought the compelling characters to the small screen in a limited series starring Riley Keough, Sam Claflin and more.
“It read like a movie or television show with back in time, but also had this great documentary footage angle too,” executive producer Reese Witherspoon told Today in February 2023 about why she was instantly inspired by the adaptation. “You got to see people talking about their life in a way that built this mystery.”
The novel, which hit bookshelves in 2019, followed the whirlwind rise of a fictional 1970s rock group and their lead singer, Daisy Jones (Keough. The puzzle pieces told throughout the story reveal the mystery behind their eventual breakup.
For the Sweet Home Alabama star — and Reid, who is also a writer and producer on the series — finding the perfect cast for the series was imperative in bringing everything to life, starting with titular character Daisy Jones herself.
“Riley came on really early. I think we all thought it was going to be really hard to find Daisy Jones because she’s this really larger-than-life character,” the Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo author explained to the outlet. “And then Riley showed up and immediately (we were) like, ‘Oh, there she is. She is Daisy Jones.’ I might have written the book for her and not have known it.”
When it came to romantic lead Billy Dunne, however, Reid told Today that finding an actor who could match up with Keough’s intensity was a challenge.
“It took a little while to find that person. And I firmly believe that the reason for that was that we were just waiting for Sam Claflin,” Reid shared, adding that she was surprised at how well the chemistry worked between the entire cast.
“I didn’t see that coming. Not because I didn’t think that it was possible, but because I don’t think I’ve seen chemistry quite like this before,” she said. “It’s really beyond what I could have imagined.”
When it came to taking the story from paper to the screen, showrunner Scott Neustadter knew the transition would be seamless due to the way Reid had crafted the narrative.
“I always knew that an oral history would lend itself well to a mockumentary or documentary sort of situation,” he told Time in March 2023. “Early on, that helped make it a fairly seamless translation; later, we realized that a lot [of the book] is allusions to moments, things that she said or he said, but you might be missing the actual scene of what happened. So we got to invent those scenes from scratch —entire moments that we got to write from beginning to end, which isn’t always the case with an adaptation. It afforded us so much fun and so many kinds of opportunities for drama will hopefully deepen the story.”
Neustadter still had the challenge, however, of figuring out what worked best for TV —and that meant expanding certain characters’ stories while cutting others out completely. In one of the biggest changes from the novel, The Six’s bassist, Pete, is erased entirely, with the band always having five members (plus Camila, portrayed by Camila Morrone, Billy’s girlfriend and eventual wife).
“When you adapt things for television, changes inevitably happen,” he shared. “The Pete character serves a function in the novel, but he doesn’t have much to say, he’s not the most dramatic. We knew if we were going to cast Pete, the actor might want more to do. It felt like eliminating Pete enabled us to do more with the characters that we had in the ensemble, which was already a pretty big group of people.”
In lieu of Pete, viewers are given a bigger look into the lives of more minor book characters like Teddy Price (Tom Wright) and Simone Jackson (Nabiyah Be), Daisy’s best friend.
“We wanted to explore what it meant to be a queer Black woman in the world in that moment in time,” he explained to Time. “What would have to be compromised, what would have to be hidden? And especially in the world of disco, which is so much about freedom and expression, that dichotomy was very interesting to us. We also really wanted to make sure that she was her own character, not someone whose only function was guiding Daisy’s story. That was really important to everybody.”
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Keep scrolling to see all the changes the TV adaptation made from the book: