The four-parter, created, written and executive produced by J.P. Delaney, is based on his bestselling novel of the same name.
“The Girl Before” follows Jane (Mbatha-Raw), who moves into a beautiful, ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect (Oyelowo). There’s just one catch: occupants have to abide by his list of exacting rules. Jane starts to feel the house changing her in unexpected ways but, when she makes the shocking discovery that her predecessor Emma died in the house, she’s forced to confront unnerving similarities.
Marissa Lestrade (“White Stork”) will co-write episodes and Emmy-nominated Lisa Brühlmann (“Killing Eve”) will direct. U.K. outfit 42 (“Watership Down”) will produce.
Executive producers are Eleanor Moran, Rory Aitken and Ben Pugh for 42, Ben Irving for the BBC, J.P. Delaney and Lisa Brühlmann. Jeniffer Kim, senior VP of international originals for HBO Max, will oversee the project from HBO. Rhonda Smith will produce and Gugu Mbatha-Raw is an associate producer.
Mbatha-Raw said: “I’m so excited to work with this amazing team on such a compelling story in my debut role as actor/producer.”
Oyelowo said: “This story is mind bending in its clever construction and intricacy. I can’t wait to see it, let alone be in it. Plus, I’d go anywhere to work with my friend Gugu again.”
Oyelowo and Mbatha-Raw previously worked together on “The Cloverfield Paradox” (2018).
Delaney said: “Having written for the screen in a previous career, it’s long been a dream of mine to adapt ‘The Girl Before,’ but I was determined to only do it if I could find partners who wanted to pursue high-quality, classy storytelling above all else. You really couldn’t get a more quality-focused line-up than 42, the BBC and HBO Max – and we’ve already attracted world-class talent in the shape of Lisa, Gugu and David. 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. It’s also been great fun to collaborate on episodes two and three with a brilliant co-writer, Marissa Lestrade.”
Eleanor Moran and Rory Aitken, executive producers for 42, said: “Gugu Mbatha-Raw always brings such emotional complexity to her roles, and having an actor as accomplished as David Oyelowo as her co-lead is a dream come true. Lisa Brühlmann’s singular vision will add a whole other layer to the show.”
The adaptation was commissioned for the BBC by Piers Wenger, director of BBC Drama and Charlotte Moore, chief content officer.
“The scripts J.P. Delaney has prepared for ‘The Girl Before’ are just as addictive and unputdownable as his riveting novel,” said Wenger.
“The Girl Before” will air on BBC One and BBC iPlayer in the U.K. and HBO Max in the U.S. ITV Studios is the international distributor and brokered the co-commission deal with HBO Max.