Elizabeth Debicki, the rising Australian actor who headlines “Tenet,” is set to star in and executive produce “Code Name Hélène,” an international limited series from France’s Vendôme Group and Anonymous Content, based on New York Times bestselling author Ariel Lawhon’s World War II spy thriller.
Philippe Rousselet’s Vendôme Group and Anonymous Content, the company behind “True Detective” and “The Revenant,” have acquired TV rights to the novel, which was published in March 2020 by Doubleday Books.
“Code Name Hélène” will tell the epic real-life story of Nancy Grace Augusta Wake, a New Zealand-born journalist who became a ferociously brave spy and one of the most powerful leaders of the French Resistance. The series will be told in interweaving timelines following each of the four code names used by Nancy during World War II.
“Nancy Wake was an astonishing New Zealand-born, Australian-bred woman of incredible courage, ingenuity and wit. Her heroic actions during WWII are, in my opinion, too little known,” said Debicki. “As an Australian, I am delighted to come on board this production as both actress and executive producer to tell her utterly unique story.”
Debicki, who will next star as Princess Diana in “The Crown,” has been delivering strong, multi-layered performances in spy projects, notably in Susanne Bier’s hit BBC/AMC drama series “The Night Manager” and more recently in Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet.”
Rousselet, who is producing “Code Name Hélène,” said, “Ariel Lawhon’s novel vividly brings to life the incredible true story of Nancy Wake, whose wit and style were matched only by her bravery, courage and passionate leadership.”
“Anonymous Content is synonymous with smart, sophisticated storytelling and is the perfect partner for us on ‘Code Name Hélène.’ It’s a gripping, epic tale with a wonderfully colorful, feisty and daring woman at its core whose bravery can’t help but inspire us all,” said Rousselet.
Anonymous Content’s Keith Redmon said, “Elizabeth Debicki is the perfect person to bring life to Ariel Lawhon’s courageous character, whose leadership and bravery led her to become one of the most successful and notorious spies of the French Resistance in World War II.”
“We couldn’t be happier to have her on board, along with our partners Philippe and the Vendôme Group team, to bring Nancy’s legacy to audiences around the world,” said Redmon.
Rosalie Swedlin and Redmon will be executive producing the limited series for Anonymous Content with Kathryn Thal. Fabrice Gianfermi, co-CEO of Vendôme Group, and Sarah Borch-Jacobsen, head of development and production, will also serve as executive producers.
“Code Name Hélène” is the second major TV series to be announced by Vendôme. The company is also developing an ambitious series project based on a New York Times report about the battle to save the Notre-Dame cathedral, with award-winning novelist and screenwriter William Boyd on board.
One of Europe’s top independent production companies, Vendôme has a solid track record in the U.S. and Europe with movies such as “La Famille Belier,” “Lord of War,” “Source Code,” “What Happened to Monday,” and more recently “The Lost Prince” helmed by Michel Hazanavicius. The banner’s current production slate includes “Coda,” Sian Heder’s English-language remake of “La Famille Belier” starring Emilia Jones.
Debicki is represented by CAA and United Management. Lawhon, a critically acclaimed author of historical fiction, is represented by Elisabeth Weed at The Book Group.