Though a third season of the hit HBO series Big Little Lies is far from guaranteed, the next best thing has arrived. A limited series based on BLL author Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers is headed to Hulu. It reunites BLL star Nicole Kidman with the show’s creator, David E. Kelley, and Jonathan Levine will direct all eight episodes. Below, everything to know about the new show, which also stars Melissa McCarthy, Luke Evans, Michael Shannon, Regina Hall, and Manny Jacinto in his first series since The Good Place.
The show is based on a book by Liane Moriarty.
The source material for the series, which was confirmed by THR in May 2019, is the 2018 novel of the same name by Moriarty. Nine Perfect Strangers, the author’s eighth adult novel, is set at a wellness retreat. In an interview with The Guardian, Moriarty said she was inspired by “this desire we all have for transformation.” She continued, “I can never see an article that says, ‘Just change this one thing about your life and you’ll be transformed forever’—even though you know when you click on it, it won’t work, I find it irresistible.”
An official logline for the Hulu adaptation, via Variety, reads:
It takes place at a boutique health-and-wellness resort that promises healing and transformation as nine stressed city dwellers try to get on a path to a better way of living. Watching over them during this ten-day retreat is the resort’s director Masha (Kidman), a woman on a mission to reinvigorate their tired minds and bodies. However, these nine ‘perfect’ strangers have no idea what is about to hit them.
An all-star cast and creative team are involved.
Kidman was attached to the show from the start, having acquired rights to the book prior to its release in July 2018, per The Hollywood Reporter. The Oscar winner will star as Masha and produce the series alongside executive producer Bruna Papandrea (Big Little Lies, Gone Girl). Kelley will serve as showrunner with John Henry Butterworth (Ford v Ferrari). Kelley and Butterworth will write the series along with Samantha Strauss (The End).
In January 2020, Deadline reported that Oscar nominee Melissa McCarthy would star in and executive-produce the series. She’ll play Frances, one of the “nine perfect strangers.” TVLine describes the character in the novel as “a down-on-her-luck romance novelist whose publisher has rejected her latest manuscript.”
On May 27, Deadline reported that Manny Jacinto would return to TV following his four-season run as Jason Mendoza on NBC’s The Good Place. He’ll play Yao, who is described as “a bright-eyed man-kid with a hipster vibe.” After experiencing a life-or-death experience alongside Kidman’s character, Yao becomes her right hand at the wellness resort, Tranquillum. The outlet notes that Yao is “deeply committed” to the unorthodox techniques of the resort and “entirely in (Masha’s) thrall.”
Late June brought the casting of Luke Evans (Beauty and the Beast, The Alienist) as another of the nine titular strangers. Per Deadline, he’ll play Lars, who’s described as a “gorgeous gay divorce lawyer” in a 2018 review of Moriarty’s novel from USA Today.
The next addition to the star-studded cast is Samara Weaving, fresh off her turn as actress Claire Wood in Netflix’s Hollywood. According to Deadline, she’ll play Jessica, another stranger. Snowfall‘s Melvin Gregg will play her character’s husband Ben, as previously reported by the outlet. According to Kirkus Reviews, Ben and Jessica Chandler are “a young couple whose relationship broke down after they won the lottery.”
Grace Van Patten (The Meyerowitz Stories, Maniac) joined the cast in late July, per Deadline. She’ll play fellow stranger Zoe, who according to USA Today entered the retreat to cope with the death of her twin brother, Zach.
Tiffany Boone, who starred as the younger version of Kerry Washington’s Mia on Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere, also joined the cast, via Deadline. She’ll play Delilah, an employee at the Tranquillum resort. While filming the series in Australia, Kidman told ELLE of Boone, “We did a scene yesterday where she really moved me. I was humbled by her openness and willingness to explore all aspects of the scene.” Boone said her character is “very zen, but she has this little fire in her.”
Regina Hall has been cast as Carmel, another of the nine perfect strangers, per Deadline. That character is described by USA Today as “a single mom of four who was dumped for a younger woman by her bored hubby.”
Deadline was also the first to report the casting of Michael Shannon as Napoleon, another of the strangers. Per the outlet, his character is married to Heather (Asher Keddie) and is father to Zoe (Grace Van Patten). The family enters the retreat while grieving.
Rounding out the cast is Bobby Cannavale as the ninth perfect stranger, Tony, Deadline reports. A USA Today review of Nine Perfect Strangers brands the character “a beer-bellied former football star” and potential love interest for McCarthy’s Frances. Another latecomer to the cast is Zoe Terakes, who plays Glory, an employee at the Tranquillum Wellness Center, per Deadline.
Jonathan Levine will direct every episode.
Levine, director of Long Shot, Warm Bodies, and 50/50, will helm all eight episodes of the limited series. He’ll also executive produce the project.
The series will be released in 2021.
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On Thursday, December 10, 2020, Hulu confirmed Nine Perfect Strangers would premiere in 2021.
In October, Kidman spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the “strict protocol” surrounded production on the series, particularly in group scenes involving all 10 principle actors. “It’s an ensemble, so 10 actors that are all working together, that are adjusting to being tested every day,” she told the outlet. “There’s really strict protocol. But you always know that at some point it could shut down, which is stressful. As an actor, it’s just amazing to be able to work. But as a producer, there’s an enormous amount of stress, feeling responsible for over 300 people’s safety and health.”
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