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Donnelly will star in The Nevers, a drama about a group of Victorian-era women “who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies and a mission that might change the world,” per HBO’s logline.
Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Avengers) is co-writing the straight-to-series project with Buffy veterans Jane Espenson and Doug Petrie and will also serve as showrunner and director.
Donnelly will play Amalia True, described as the most reckless, impulsive, emotionally damaged hero of her time. A menace to stuffy Victorian society, she would die for the cause and kill for a drink.
“Laura Donnelly has charisma, wisdom and an anarchic precision that not only captures Amalia, but defines her,” said Whedon. “She’s fierce and she’s funny — and I need both for the journey ahead.”
The Nevers landed at HBO in 2018 after a multiple-outlet bidding war. It’s the first TV series Whedon will showrun since Fox’s Dollhouse a decade ago (he’s an executive producer of ABC’s Agents of SHIELD but not directly involved). At the time of its pickup, Whedon called it “maybe the most ambitious narrative I’ve created.”
Donnelly has recurred on Outlander as Jenny Fraser, Jamie’s (Sam Heughan) sister. Her credits also include Tolkien, The Fall and ABC’s Missing. She is repped by Jonathan Arun in the U.K., CAA and attorney Shelby Weiser.
The Nevers doesn’t yet have a premiere date. It’s part of an upcoming HBO slate that includes Veep creator Armando Iannucci’s space comedy Avenue 5, Los Espookys, The Righteous Gemstones, Perry Mason, Mrs. Fletcher and Run, along with a pilot for a Game of Thrones prequel. The channel is under orders from corporate parent WarnerMedia to increase its output of scripted originals and is opening up a second night of originals Mondays with Gentleman Jack.
Deadline first reported Donnelly’s casting.
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