HBO and HBO Max are known for featuring the creme-de-la-creme of Brit-led content, either co-productions like Chernobyl or shows studded with U.K. talent, like The Nevers. But HBO has also long done original movies, some of which are also British-backed pieces. The channel has brought over everything from Peter Morgan's The Special Relationship to the more recent Brexit with Benedict Cumberbatch. The latest to hit these shores will be Oslo, a made-for-TV film based on the Tony award-winning 2017 play by J. T. Rogers.
The original three-hour stage production was a dramatization based on the true story of Norwegian diplomat Mona Juul and her psychologist husband, Terje Rød-Larsen, who organized the secret backdoor negotiations between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat. Those meetings led to the breakthrough negotiations between Palestine and Israel in 1993. The play took home the Tony Award for Best Play and Best Featured Actor in a Play for Michael Aronov (The Americans). It ran simultaneously in both New York and London at the Royal National Theatre, where it was nominated for multiple Laurence Olivier Awards.
The new version puts Ruth Wilson (His Dark Materials) and Andrew Scott (Fleabag) as the central couple, with Jeff Wilbusch (Unorthodox) taking on Aronov's role of Uri Savir, the Director-General of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The trailer looks as intense as the stage play feels.
The official synopsis is as follows:
The plot is based on a true story of negotiations between implacable enemies — the secret back-channel talks, unlikely friendships, and quiet heroics of a small but committed group of Israelis, Palestinians, and one Norwegian couple that led to the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords.
The rest of the Oslo cast includes Salim Dau (The Bureau), Waleed Zuaiter (The Spy), Igal Naor (Homeland), Dov Glickman (Stockholm), Rotem Keinan (The Policeman's Daughter), Itzik Cohen (Fauda), Tobias Zilliacus (Peacemaker), and Sasson Gabai (Shtisel). J.T. Rogers is once again behind the script. In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Rogers said he initially considered writing it as a movie script but opted to do a stage play and keep it to a set of negotiation rooms.
"It's such a verbal and idea-driven story, but also a visually compelling one. I always thought that in the back of my mind, it'd be fascinating to pivot and come at it from a very different way. I'm excited to bring back parts I had to cut from the play and add things like shots of men and women arriving from the Middle East after riding all night in a taxi. Images like that are powerful to this story."
Oslo premieres on HBO on Saturday, May 29, 2021, at 8 p.m. ET. It streams starting the next day on HBO Max.