Following the tremendous success of Normal People, award-winning production company Element Pictures (The Favourite, Room, The Lobster) has today announced the highly anticipated casting for the BBC Three and Hulu TV adaptation of Sally Rooney’s debut novel, Conversations With Friends.
Alison Oliver, an emerging talent from Lir Academy (whose graduates include Normal People’s Paul Mescal) is set to play Frances, Sasha Lane (American Honey, The Miseducation Of Cameron Post) will star as Bobbi, Joe Alwyn (The Favourite, A Christmas Carol) as Nick, and Jemima Kirke (Sex Education, Girls) as Melissa.
The series is described as "both a complex coming of age drama and a very modern love story."
Element Pictures is once again collaborating with director Lenny Abrahamson and writer Alice Birch who will work alongside writers Mark O’Halloran (Rialto), Meadhbh McHugh (Asking For It), and Susan Soon He Stanton (Succession) on the 12-part drama for BBC Three in partnership with Hulu.
Conversations With Friends follows Frances (Alison Oliver), a 21-year-old college student, as she navigates a series of relationships that force her to confront her own vulnerabilities for the first time. Frances is observant, cerebral, and sharp.
Her ex-girlfriend, now best friend, Bobbi (Sasha Lane) is self-assured, outspoken and compelling.
Though they broke up three years ago, Frances and Bobbi are virtually inseparable and perform spoken word poetry together in Dublin. It’s at one of their shows that they meet Melissa (Jemima Kirke), an older writer, who is fascinated by the pair.
Bobbi and Frances start to spend time with Melissa and her husband, Nick (Joe Alwyn), a handsome but reserved actor.
While Melissa and Bobbi flirt with each other openly, Nick and Frances embark on an intense, secret affair that is surprising to them both.
Soon the affair begins to test the bond between Frances and Bobbi, forcing Frances to reconsider her sense of self, and the friendship she holds so dear.
Filming will take place this year in Dublin, Belfast, and international locations yet to be confirmed, with the Oscar-nominated director at the helm of Normal People, Lenny Abrahamson (Room, The Little Stranger, Frank), returning and sharing the directorial duties with Leanne Welham (Pili, His Dark Materials).
Piers Wenger, Director of BBC Drama, says: "Lenny's deep affinity for Sally's writing and talent for finding actors to bring her fictional creations to life played a huge part in bringing Normal People so successfully to screen. In casting Alison, Sasha, Joe, and Jemima, that same flair and instinct is in evidence and we cant wait to see how they will bring Frances, Bobbi, Nick and Melissa to life."
Lenny Abrahamson, Executive Producer and Director, comments: “I feel so excited to be collaborating with four such superb actors to bring Sally’s brilliant novel to the screen."
"Over the last few months it has been a privilege to work alongside Element Pictures and our extraordinary team of writers to get the scripts to a point where we all feel so excited to start shooting. I’ll be joined by a world class crew (many of whom worked on Normal People) and supporting cast and I’m particularly happy to have Leanne Welham come on board."
"I’ve been an admirer of her work for a long time and I have no doubt she will bring great skill and subtlety to the episodes she directs.”
Ed Guiney, Executive Producer and Company Director of Element Pictures, adds:
“Alison, Sasha, Joe and Jemima are the dream cast to lead Conversations With Friends and all of us at Element are so excited about the incredible scripts from our amazing team of writers which we have been developing with the oversight of the brilliant Lenny Abrahamson."
"We can’t wait to start filming with Lenny, Leanne and our wonderful cast and crew to bring Sally’s extraordinary novel to the screen.”
The series will premiere on Hulu and BBC Three in 2022.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.