Julia Child Drama at HBO Max Sets Cast

Sarah Lancashire and Julia Child- Split -H 2020
Courtesy of Neil Marland; FilmMagic

HBO Max's drama pilot about the life of Julia Child has set its cast, with British actress Sarah Lancashire (Happy Valley, Last Tango in Halifax) set to play the renowned chef and author.

Tom Hollander, Brittany Bradford, Bebe Neuwirth and Isabella Rossellini are also among the cast in Julia, which comes from Lionsgate TV and Party of Five co-creator Chris Keyser. Joan Cusack was initially attached to play Child but fell out of the project.

Keyser will serve as showrunner on the project, written by Daniel Goldfarb (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Tyrant). Keyser is a key negotiator in the Writers Guild of America's battle against talent agencies over packaging fees and affiliated studios, but Julia is a CAA package, which was set up in late 2018 ahead of the WGA's new Code of Conduct. Sources told The Hollywood Reporter Keyser learned of CAA attaching a packaging fee to the Julia Child project once HBO Max expressed interest in the show.

Julia is inspired by Child's life and her TV show, The French Chef, which essentially invented food television. Through Child and her singular can-do spirit, it explores an evolving time in American history — the emergence of a new social institution called public television, feminism and the women's movement, the nature of celebrity and America's cultural growth. At its heart, the show is a portrait of a marriage with an evolving and complicated power dynamic.

Hollander (The Night Manager) will play Julia's husband, Paul Child. Bradford (Macbeth on Broadway) plays Alice, an associate producer of WGBH-TV's I've Been Reading who champions Child after her appearance. Neuwirth (Cheers, Madam Secretary) plays Avis, Child's biggest champion and best friend. Rossellini plays Simca, co-author of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

The cast also includes Fran Kranz (Dollhouse) as Russ, the producer of I've Been Reading who reluctantly joins Child's cooking show; Fiona Glascott (Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald) as Judith, Child's editor; and Jefferson Mays (I Am the Night) as Albert, the host of I've Been Reading

Keyser and Goldfarb executive produce with director Charles McDougall (House of Cards) and Erwin Stoff and Kimberly Carver of 3 Arts Entertainment. Todd Schulkin of the Julia Child Foundation is a consulting producer.

Lancashire is repped by Nick Forgacs at Independent Talent Group; Hollander by WME and United Agents; Bradford by Untitled Entertainment, CESD and Peikoff Mahan; Kranz by Berwick & Kovacik, Gersh and Sloane Offer; Glascott by The Artists Partnership, LINK Entertainment and Felker Toczek; Neuwirth by ICM Partners; Rossellini by APA; and Mays by ICM Partners and Authentic Management.