O'Mara lands on 'Mars' for Kelley, ABC


Jason O'Mara has been tapped as the lead in "Life on Mars," David E. Kelley's drama pilot for ABC that Thomas Schlamme is directing.

Based on the 2006 BBC series, the show centers on Sam Tyler (O'Mara), a detective who finds himself transported back to the 1970s after his girlfriend is kidnapped.

"This is a complicated character with many colors," Kelley said. "After an exhaustive search, we're thrilled to have cast Jason O'Mara. He is a tremendous talent, and we are confident that he will live up to the potential of the character and of the series. "

The project, from 20th Century Fox TV, David E. Kelley Prods. and Kudos Film & Television, was ordered as a pilot this past development cycle, but production was pushed because of difficulties casting the lead.

"When I read the script, the bad news was (that) in order for the project to work, we needed an actor who could play confident yet lost, forceful yet frightened, withdrawn yet available, and uncompromising yet funny," Schlamme said. "The good news is we got Jason O'Mara."

Rachelle Lefevre, who was cast in February as the female lead — the lone female detective in the department, circa 1972 — remains attached.

Kelley penned the script for the pilot and is executive producing it with Schlamme and Kudos' Stephen Garrett and Jane Featherstone.

Production is slated to begin Aug. 14.

"Mars" extends O'Mara's relationship with ABC.

He had two back-to-back talent deals with ABC and ABC Studios in the past two years. The most recent one led to his casting as Philip Marlowe in "Marlowe" — ABC's well-received drama pilot about the famous detective — this past development season.

He also did a multiepisode arc on ABC's freshman series "Men in Trees" and starred on the ABC series "In Justice."

On the big screen, he next appears in "Resident Evil: Extinction."

O'Mara is repped by ICM and attorney Jamie Mandelbaum.