EXCLUSIVE: Chris Messina (Birds of Prey), Cory Michael Smith (First Man, Carol), Aida Turturro (The Sopranos), Wunmi Mosaku (Lovecraft Country) and newcomer Grace Edwards have boarded Call Jane, which is now in production in Connecticut.
In the women’s rights drama, directed by Carol screenwriter Phyllis Nagy, they will star opposite previously announced cast members Elizabeth Banks, Sigourney Weaver and Kate Mara.
Based on a script by Hayley Schore & Roshan Sethi that made The Black List, Call Jane is set during the summer of 1968, which sees protests rock the Democratic National Convention. Against this backdrop, we follow Joy Griffin (Banks), a housewife and mother who experiences a life-threatening pregnancy that no doctor will allow her to terminate. After finding herself out of options, with little time to lose, Joy discovers a network of women who facilitate safe abortions for women in need—no questions asked. The group’s kindness and courage end up saving Joy’s life, while igniting a new sense of purpose in her: to help other women gain control of their destinies. The network’s leader, Virginia (Weaver), takes Joy under her wing, and despite the risks they face in this pre-Roe v. Wade era, they hatch a plan to expand the network to provide safe abortions for all women who need them, regardless of their ability to pay.
In the film, Messina will play Joy’s loving and sympathetic husband Will. A promising criminal litigator, Will lives his life by the book.
Smith will play Dean, a doctor with an air of roguish confidence, who works with Victoria to perform abortions for women in need. He’s a distant, private man for obvious reasons, but has more to hide than the fact that he does illegal procedures — he’s not even a real doctor. Dean finds himself consistently impressed with the women who step up to help more than he ever could.
Turturro will play Sister Mike, a nun and key member of the Janes, who works with the other women to build their network. Sister Mike’s focus is on women and girls who struggle with the idea of getting an abortion, for religious reasons.
Mosaku is portraying Gwen, an early ally of Joy’s and someone on whom Joy and the team depend.
Finally, there’s Edwards, who will portray Joy’s daughter, Charlotte. A typical 13-year-old girl coming of age in the 1960s, Charlotte is whip smart, funny, thoughtful, and mature. She begins to notice her mom’s strange behavior after Joy loses her baby, and begins to wonder if something nefarious is going on. When she discovers Joy’s involvement with the Janes, she’s initially hurt, wishing her mother would focus on her. But eventually, she realizes that the cause is much greater than any individual and supports her.
Messina recently appeared opposite Rosamund Pike in Netflix’s darkly comic thriller, I Care a Lot. He also starred in Amy Seimetz’s She Dies Tomorrow, and in the third season of USA’s critically acclaimed anthology series, The Sinner, opposite Matt Bomer and Bill Pullman.
Smith recently starred in Gillian Flynn’s series Utopia for Amazon. Well-known for portraying The Riddler throughout five seasons of Fox’s hit series, Gotham, he earned Critics Choice and Gold Derby nominations for his appearance opposite Frances McDormand in the award-winning HBO miniseries, Olive Kitteridge. On the film side, the actor’s credits include Todd Haynes’ Carol and Wonderstruck, Damian Chazelle’s First Man and Yen Tan’s drama 1985, which he also produced.
Winning a Screen Actors Guild Award and earning multiple Emmy nominations for her work on The Sopranos, Aida Turturro recently appeared in Til Schweiger’s drama, Head Full of Honey. On the small screen, she has also featured in multiple episodes of The Blacklist, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Kaljave gume.
A two-time BAFTA Award nominee, Mosaku’s TV credits include Luther, HBO’s Lovecraft Country, and Disney+ and Marvel’s upcoming Loki. On the film side, the actress has appeared in Zeresenay Mehari’s festival title, Sweetness in the Belly, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and more.
Then, there’s Grace Edwards, who has found in Call Jane her first major role.
Dallas Buyers Club‘s Robbie Brenner is producing Call Jane, alongside David Wulf, Kevin McKeon and Lee Broda. Protagonist Pictures is handling international sales.
Messina is represented by CAA, Management 360, and Gendler & Kelly; Michael Smith is repped by Circle of Confusion and Paradigm Talent Agency; Turturo is repped by Framework Entertainment and Innovative Artists; Mosaku is with The Gersh Agency and Scott Marshall Partners, while Edwards is with The Osbrink Talent Agency, Echo Lake Entertainment and Hansen Jacobsen et al.
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