Emmy-nominated actor David Oyelowo has signed on to join Gugu Mbatha-Raw in HBO Max‘s limited series adaptation of JP Delaney‘s bestselling book The Girl Before, the streamer announced Tuesday.
The psychological thriller follows Mbatha-Raw’s Jane, who gets the chance to move into a beautiful, ultra-minimalist house designed by a mysterious architect (Oyelowo). There’s just one catch — she’ll have to abide by his list of stringent rules. As Jane starts to feel the house changing her in unexpected ways, she makes the shocking discovery that her predecessor Emma died in the house, forcing her to confront unnerving similarities. As the two women’s timelines interweave, Jane begins to question if her fate will be the same as — wait for it — the girl before.
Lisa Brühlmann (Killing Eve) will direct The Girl Before and executive produce alongside creator/writer Delaney (aka Anthony Capella) and 42‘s Eleanor Moran, Rory Aitken and Ben Pugh, as well as the BBC‘s Ben Irving. Rhonda Smith will produce the four-episode series, which will see Mbatha-Raw serve as an associate producer, thus marking her producing debut. Marissa Lestrade co-wrote two episodes of the show, which is a co-production between HBO Max and BBC One.
“This story is mind bending in its clever construction and intricacy. I can’t wait to see it, let alone be in it,” said Oyelowo, who previously worked with Mbatha-Raw on Netflix‘s sci-fi sequel The Cloverfield Paradox, though something tells me this HBO Max series will be much more worthy of their talents.
“Having written for the screen in a previous career, it’s long been a dream of mine to adapt The Girl Before,” said Delaney. “Psychological thrillers can be even more gripping on television than they would be as movies, and I’m incredibly excited to be re-telling this particular story in a visual medium.”
“Can our surroundings, like a special house, affect who we are, even change us? The ability to change our beliefs and our character is highly fascinating to me. I can’t wait to bring this female-driven thriller to life,” added Brühlmann.
It sounds like Delaney‘s book was a real page-turner, as the BBC‘s Piers Wenger called it “addictive” and “riveting,” while HBO Max‘s Jeniffer Kim called it an “intricate mind-twister,” and Moran and Aitken referred to “extraordinary secrets hidden behind the walls of One Folgate Street.”
The address was prominent throughout the release, so at least we know everyone’s actually read this book! Published by Ballantine in the U.S., The Girl Before has sold more than one million copies worldwide since its publication in 2016. The limited series will stream in the U.S. on HBO Max and will air on BBC One and BBC iPlayer in the UK, where the novel was published by Quercus.
Mbatha-Raw (Beauty and the Beast) is coming off an acclaimed turn on Apple‘s The Morning Show, and she’ll soon be seen opposite Tom Hiddleston in Marvel‘s Loki series. She’ll also star in Veronica West‘s limited series Surface, which she’ll co-produce with her A Wrinkle in Time co-star Reese Witherspoon.
Best known for his rousing turn as Martin Luther King Jr. in Ava DuVernay‘s Selma, Oyelowo can currently be seen in George Clooney‘s Netflix drama The Midnight Sky, which is on course to be watched by 72 million households within its first four weeks according to Netflix. The British actor recently made his own directorial debut with The Water Man, which will be released day-and-date in U.S. theaters and PVOD on May 7. He’ll also soon be seen alongside Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley in Chaos Walking and in Sony’s Peter Rabbit sequel, and he’s currently filming Searchlight‘s untitled murder mystery with Saoirse Ronan and Sam Rockwell.
42 recently produced the the Emmy-winning animated miniseries Watership Down and the company’s recent feature credits include Anthony Mackie‘s popular Netflix movie Outside the Wire, and the upcoming Cold War thriller The Courier, which pairs Benedict Cumberbatch with Rachel Brosnahan. 42 will also begin shooting the Letitia Wright–Tamara Lawrence movie The Silent Twins later this month. It has first-look deals with Netflix for film and MGM for television.