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'Conversations With Friends': Hulu Sets Cast for Sally Rooney Adaptation

  Courtesy Photos/HULU; Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage
 Newcomer Alison Oliver joins Sasha Lane, Joe Alwyn and Jemima Kirke in the coming-of-age drama from the producers of 'Normal People.'
Conversations with Friends has found its stars.
Hulu on Wednesday announced the cast for its highly anticipated adaptation of Normal People author Sally Rooney’s debut literary sensation.
Alison Oliver, an emerging talent from Lir Academy (whose graduates count 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, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk) as Nick; and Jemima Kirke (Sex Education, Girls) as Melissa.
Described as both a complex coming of age drama and a very modern love story, Conversations with Friends follows Frances (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 (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 (Kirke), an older writer, who is fascinated by the pair. Bobbi and Frances start to spend time with Melissa and her husband, Nick (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.
The 12-episode, half-hour drama is an Element Pictures production for Hulu and BBC Three; it airs next year on the BBC and on Hulu. Filming will take place this year in Dublin, Belfast and international locations yet to be confirmed.
Conversations with Friends follows the success of Hulu's Normal People and reunites that team for the second Rooney adaptation. 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). The Oscar-nominated helmer (Room, The Little Stranger, Frank) will share the directorial duties with Leanne Welham (Pili, His Dark Materials).
"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," says Piers Wenger, director of BBC Drama.
Added Abrahamson of the cast: "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."
BBC Three announced plans to adapt Conversations With Friends in February of 2020. The novel was first published in 2017 by Faber & Faber. Endeavor Content is handling worldwide sales.
Conversations with Friends is executive produced by Ed Guiney (Normal People, The Favourite, Room, The Lobster), Emma Norton (Normal People, Rosie, The Souvenir: Part II), Andrew Lowe (Normal People, The Favourite) for Element Pictures; Rose Garnett (Normal People, The Favourite, The Souvenir) is exec producing for BBC. Rooney and Abrahamson are executive producers, as well as Tommy Bulfin (Normal People, Line of Duty, Peaky Blinders) for the BBC.
Oliver is repped by Curtis Brown; Lane is repped by WME, The Long Run’s Amy BonFleur, Attorney Andres Des Rochers, and Narrative; Alwyn is repped by CAA, Independent Talent Group and Slate PR; and Kirke is repped by CAA, Schreck Rose Dapello Adams Berlin and Dunham, and Viewpoint.

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