Helen Mirren has signed on to star in Lionsgate’s “White Bird: A Wonder Story,” a spinoff of the hit 2017 film that starred Jacob Tremblay as a boy with a rare facial deformity.
“White Bird” also stars Gillian Anderson and will be directed by “Christopher Robin” filmmaker Marc Forster.
The spinoff sees Bryce Gheisar return as Julian Albans, the antagonist of “Wonder” who bullied Auggie Pullman (Tremblay) for his deformity and was suspended and later pulled from school by his mother, played by Anderson. Mirren will play Julian’s Jewish grandmother Sara, whom the boy is sent to live with in Paris. During his stay, Julian learns about his grandmother’s past hiding as a child in Nazi-occupied France with the help of a classmate and his family. The new film also stars Ariella Glaser and Orlando Schwerdt as Sara and her friend in WWII flashback scenes.
“I am deeply honored to have Helen Mirren join us on this journey,” Forster said in a statement. “Beyond being a brilliant actress, Helen brings an immeasurable level of depth, humanity, and empathy to her roles, elevating any project she is a part of. She is a true artist and I couldn’t be more excited to have her alongside our incredibly talented cast.”
“Helen Mirren is a screen legend — one of our industry’s most accomplished and talented actresses — so, obviously, it’s hugely exciting to know that she loves this story as much as we do and wanted to be a part of it,” Lionsgate President Nathan Kahane said. “We’re equally excited to showcase Ariella and Orlando’s talents — as they take on their first major roles, they’ll bring heart, emotion, and magnetism to their performances and we are thrilled Bryce will return to bridge his role from ‘Wonder.’ ‘White Bird: A Wonder Story’ is the kind of movie that the world needs now and it’s a thrill to have these incredible actors bringing to life this story of compassion, empathy, kindness, and hope.”
“Wonder” was a surprise hit for Lionsgate back in November 2017, grossing $305 million worldwide against a $20 million budget.
Mark Bomback, co-writer of “War for the Planet of the Apes,” will adapt the screenplay from R.J. Palacio’s novel of the same name. “Wonder” producers David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman will return for the spinoff through Mandeville Films alongside Palacio. Renée Wolfe, who is a partner in Forster’s 2DUX2, will serve as executive producer with Alex Young for Mandeville. James Myers and Aaron Edmonds are overseeing the project on behalf of Lionsgate, with filming having already started in Eastern Europe.
Mirren is represented by CAA. News of the signing was first reported by Deadline.