26 February 2021 The Irish Film & Television Network
     
Lenny Abrahamson to direct Sally Rooney's Conversations With Friends adaptation; Irish newcomer Alison Oliver named among cast
17 Feb 2021 : Nathan Griffin
Lenny Abrahamson on set.
Element Pictures (The Favourite, Room, The Lobster) has revealed the highly anticipated casting for the BBC Three and Hulu TV adaptation of Sally Rooney’s debut literary sensation, Conversations With Friends.

Alison Oliver, an emerging talent from Lir Academy (whose graduates include Normal People’s Paul Mescal) will 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, in this unique series that is 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).

“I feel so excited to be collaborating with four such superb actors to bring Sally’s brilliant novel to the screen,” director Lenny Abrahamson said. “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 added; “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.”

Conversations With Friends is an Element Pictures production for BBC Three and Hulu and was commissioned by Piers Wenger, Director of BBC Drama, and Fiona Campbell Controller of BBC Three.

"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,” said Piers Wenger, Director of BBC Drama. “In casting Alison, Sasha, Joe, and Jemima, that same flair and instinct is in evidence and we can’t wait to see how they will bring Frances, Bobbi, Nick, and Melissa to life."

The 12x30 drama has been adapted from the debut novel by Sally Rooney, who is on board as Executive Producer. Further executive producers are Ed Guiney (Normal People, The Favourite, Room, The Lobster), Emma Norton (Normal People, Rosie, The Souvenir: Part II) and Andrew Lowe (Normal People, The Favourite) for Element Pictures, Rose Garnett (Normal People, The Favourite, The Souvenir) and Tommy Bulfin (Normal People, Line of Duty, Peaky Blinders) for the BBC and Lenny Abrahamson.

Catherine Magee (Normal People, Resistance, Rebellion) is the series producer and Jeanie Igoe (Ramy, Miss Juneteenth, The Green Knight) is the producer. Alice Birch, Mark O’Halloran, Meadhbh McHugh, and Susan Soon He Stanton have adapted the novel for TV.

Following Rooney’s critically acclaimed debut novel Conversations With Friends, she was awarded 2017’s Sunday Times Writer of the Year Award. Her literary phenomenon of the following year, Normal People, was adapted for TV by Element Pictures, alongside Sally Rooney, Alice Birch, and Mark O’Rowe. The Emmy and TCA-nominated, RTS-winning show starring Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal received huge critical acclaim following transmission.

Endeavor Content is handling worldwide sales. Conversations With Friends will premiere on BBC Three and air on BBC One. It will air next year on the BBC and on Hulu.





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