The book-to-film pipeline once required a book to exist before production companies snapped it up for film adaptation, but that window has gotten shorter and shorter since the early aughts. Still, just because a book gets a development deal before it hit shelves doesn't mean the road runs smooth. The Girl Before, for instance, was optioned with Ron Howard attached for a big-screen film a year before its 2016 release, but that project went nowhere, leaving the title in limbo for five years. In 2021, the rights came back up, and the BBC landed them, announcing a miniseries based on the now-hit novel.
Determined to make sure the project got off the ground, author J.P. Delaney was the driving engine behind the adaptation working with production studio 42, the U.K. house behind Netflix's The English Game, and the BBC/Netflix Watership Down. The team quickly cast Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Loki) in the lead role of Jane, a woman who falls madly in love with a highly minimalized house, to the point that she's willing to live by the strict rules that come with the let. David Oyelowo (Les Miserables) then followed in the role of the home's enigmatic architect and rule-maker, Edward Monkford, with whom she starts an affair.
In the novel, Jane's timeline is intertwined with another couple, the previous occupants, Emma and Simon, where the wife fell for the house and was willing to live by the rules. The series cast singer Jessica Plummer (How to Talk to Girls at Parties) and Ben Hardy (The Woman in White) in those roles, completing the foursome before filming began in the spring of 2021. With an early 2022 release date planned for the U.S. market, the trailer is out, giving American fans a first look at the thriller.
Here's the series' synopsis:
The series tells the story of Jane, who gets the chance to move into a beautiful, ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect. There's just one catch: occupants have to abide by his list of exacting rules. Jane starts to feel the house changing her in unexpected ways, but when she makes a shocking discovery about her predecessor Emma, she's forced to confront unnerving similarities. As the two women's timelines interweave, Jane begins to question if her fate will be the same as the girl before.
The series co-stars Ian Conningham (Outlander) as investigator DI James Clarke, along with Amanda Drew (A Very British Scandal), Mark Stanley (Game of Thrones), Rakhee Thakrar (Sex Education), Ben Addis (Hugo), and Natasha Atherton (Hanna). Delany wrote all episodes along with Marissa Lestrade (White Stork), with Lisa Brühlmann (Killing Eve) helming all four installments.
The Girl Before finished its run on BBC One over the Christmas holiday and is currently streaming on the BBC iPlayer in the U.K. The series will stream in the U.S. on HBO Max, with all episodes arriving Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022.