Gugu Mbatha-Raw to Return to London Stage

Gugu Mbatha-Raw

The rising screen star of 'Belle' and 'Beyond the Lights' will play the title role in 'Nell Gwynn,' about the 17th century brothel-keeper's daughter who became the king's mistress.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw will return to the London stage at the end of the summer, taking on the title role in Jessica Swale's historical bio-drama Nell Gwynn at Shakespeare's Globe.

Christopher Luscombe will direct the new play, which is set in 1660 and charts the fortunes of the young woman raised in a brothel who became a celebrated stage actress and mistress to King Charles II. The production starts previews Sept. 19, with an official opening on Sept. 24.

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British actress Mbatha-Raw scored breakout screen roles in Belle and Beyond the Lights. Her upcoming films include The Whole Truth, with Keanu Reeves and Renee ZellwegerConcussion, with Will Smith; The Free State of Jones, with Matthew McConaughey and Keri Russell; and Bill Condon's all-star live-action remake of Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

Mbatha-Raw first turned heads on the stage starring opposite Andrew Garfield in Romeo and Juliet at Manchester's Royal Exchange in 2005, and later played Ophelia in Hamlet with Jude Law, which had a successful Broadway transfer in 2009 following its London run.

She is one of 322 potential new members invited last month to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.