On the heels of her first big feature role — playing the co-lead in M. Night Shyamalan’s 2015 horror movie The Visit — rising young Australian actress Olivia DeJonge has landed her first U.S. TV gig. She is set as the female lead opposite Laurie Davidson in Will, TNT’s drama pilot chronicling the 20s of William Shakespeare.
Elizabeth helmer Shekhar Kapur is directing the pilot, which comes from Craig Pearce, the longtime writing partner of auteur filmmaker Baz Luhrmann. It tells the wild story of young William Shakespeare (Davidson) and his arrival onto the punk rock theater scene that was 16th century London – the seductive, violent world where his raw talent faced rioting audiences, religious fanatics and raucous side-shows. It’s described as the hot, contemporary, dangerous version of Shakespeare’s life, played to a modern soundtrack, exposing all his recklessness, lustful temptations and brilliance.
DeJonge will play Alice Burbage. Talented and beautiful, Alice is a rebel who tests the limits of her world with a wit and charm that masks an underlying anger and frustration; although the daughter of impresario James Burbage, society forbids her to pursue a career in the theatre. Attracted to Will’s naïve genius, an explosive, star-crossed passion quickly develops between the two. Together they scale the highest peaks and are plunged to the lowest depths of love – Alice ultimately makes a decision that rocks Will to his core and threatens to tear The Theatre apart.
Pearce wrote the script and executive produces with Vince Gerardis, Howard Braunstein and Louise Rosager. Colm Meaney and Mattias Inwood co-star.
The 17-year-old DeJonge got off to a fast start, winning the WASA Award for Best Actress and landing a Most Outstanding Newcomer AACTA Award nomination for Maziar Lahooti’s short film The Good Pretender when she was 13. DeJonge made her featured debut in Caryn Waechter’s 2014 film The Sisterhood Of Night. Her big-screen credits include the Australian movie Safe Neighborhood, directed by Chris Peckover; and Scare Campaign, directed by Cameron and Colin Cairnes.
DeJonge is a fitting choice for a Shakespeare-themed project as she shares a name with one of the central characters in The Bard’s classing Twelfth Night. She is repped by CAA and Kelly Tiffan Management and IMC in Australia.