Starz has set Tom Sturridge (The Hollow Crown, On the Road), Caitlin Fitzgerald (Masters of Sex, Rectify) and Paul Sparks (House of Cards, The Girlfriend Experience) for key roles opposite Ella Purnell and rounded out the cast with four series regulars, Evan Jonigkeit (X-Men: Days of Future Past, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot), Daniyar (Claws, Scandal), Eden Epstein (In Between Men, Blind) and Jasmine Mathews (Blue Bloods, Heathers).
Based on Stephanie Danler’s bestselling novel, Sweetbitter center on Purnell’s Tess, who shortly after arriving in New York City, lands a job at a celebrated downtown restaurant. Swiftly introduced to the world of drugs, drinking, love, lust, dive bars and fine dining, she learns to navigate the chaotically alluring, yet punishing life she has stumbled upon. Sweetbitter is the story of a young woman’s coming-of-age, set against the rich and grimy backdrop of exclusive restaurants, conjuring a nonstop and high-adrenaline world evoking the possibility, beauty and fragility of being young and adrift.
Sturridge will play Jake,a recklessly beautiful bartender, and FitzGerald will portray Simone, a sommelier who is the embodiment of self-possession, beauty, and authority at the restaurant. Simone and Jake awaken, in Tess ( Purnell), a sense of lust she has never felt before. Sparks will play Howard, the General Manager of the restaurant and father-figure to the group who work there.
Jonigkeit is Will, the backwaiter assigned to train Tess and becomes her first friend. Daniyar is Sasha, a highly proficient and hard-working Russian immigrant-turned-backwaiter. Epstein will portray Ari, an adventurous lesbian who backwaits by day and DJs by night. She and Heather (Matthews), a server postponing law school, are a fearsome duo who treat gossip like a professional sport.
Emmy and DGA Award-winning writer/director Richard Shepard (The Matador, Dom Hemingway, Girls)) will direct the series premiere episode. Shepard will also serve as executive producer with Stu Zicherman (The Americans, The Affair, Six Degrees), Plan B Entertainment, and Stephanie Danler, who has written the script for the first episode. Donna Bloom will serve as producer on the six-episode freshman season.
Sturridge is repped by Curtis Brown Group and WME. Fitzgerald is repped by ICM Partners, Anonymous Content and Peikoff Mahan. Sparks is repped by The Gersh Agency and One Entertainment. onigkeit is repped by UTA and lawyer James Adams at Schreck Rose Dapello Adams Berlin & Dunham. Daniyar is repped by Courtney Peldon at Aqua Talent Agency and Bohemia Group. Epstein is represented by Authentic Talent & Literary Management, Stewart Talent, and Jackoway Tyerman. Mathews is repped by The Gersh Agency and Red Letter Entertainment.
Starz retains all global distribution and home entertainment rights to Sweetbitter.