Cynthia Erivo to Star in ‘Prima Facie,’ Movie Adaptation of Smash Jodie Comer Play (EXCLUSIVE)

Cynthia Erivo will star in a film adaptation of the theater sensation “Prime Facie,” Variety can report exclusively.

Participant and Bunya Productions announced Monday that Oscar nominee Erivo will take on the role originated on the West End (and, currently, on Broadway) by actor Jodie Comer. Erivo will also executive produce the project through her banner Edith’s Daughter.

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BAFTA winner and Emmy nominee Susanna White (“Woman Walks Ahead,” “Star Wars: Andor”) will direct. Suzie Miller has adapted her own critically-acclaimed stage play for the screen.

“Prima Facie,” which translates to “at first sight,” tells the propulsive story of ambitious and confident defense attorney Tessa. From working class roots, the rising star in the high-powered London legal system skillfully defends her clients — including those accused of sexual assault. But after she is raped by a colleague, she discovers that the law does not deliver justice along the boundaries of consent.

“I am thrilled to be joining Suzie, Susanna, Participant, Bunya and the rest of the team on this journey,” Erivo told Variety. “Tessa’s experience sheds such vulnerable light on the complex conversations around consent and sexual abuse and the law that surrounds it, which is all too relatable for so many and timely for all.”

Currently in production on the hugely-anticipated screen adaptation of “Wicked,” Erivo also praised “Killing Eve” star Comer’s stage performance as Tessa (which landed the latter an Olivier award and a recent Tony nomination).

“Jodie Comer’s powerhouse exploration of that struggle on Broadway is nothing short of beautiful and heart-wrenching,” said Erivo. “When I read this script I knew it was important work to do. I look forward to getting to know who Tessa is to me as ‘Prima Facie’ goes from stage to screen.”

Bunya’s Greer Simpkin, David Jowsey and Jenny Cooney will produce the feature alongside Participant. Miller, Solome Williams and Participant’s Jeff Skoll will executive produce alongside Erivo. Robert Kessel and Elizabeth Haggard will oversee the project for Participant.

Playwright Miller called Erivo “a highly talented and nuanced actor who will create a bold and dynamic Tessa for the screen.” After catching the play in London, Participant CEO David Linde said he was “blown away by Suzie’s work, and I’ve known Susanna long enough to know that I cannot wait for this story to be reinvented for the screen through her lens.”

The play first opened in Australia in 2020 and is currently launching in over 25 countries. It has earned four Tony Award nominations, and won the 2023 Olivier for best new play and best actress. The play also swept the Australian Writers Guild Awards.

Erivo is represented by UTA, Authentic Talent and Literary Management, Peikoff Mahan and The Lede Company. White is represented by Casarotto Ramsay & Associates and CAA. Miller is represented by HLA Management and The Agency.

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