Nikki Amuka-Bird and Phoebe Fox are to star in the forthcoming production of Zadie Smith's novel NW (Penguin).
Amuka-Bird and Fox will play Natalie and Leah - two friends who grew up together in North West London, but whose lives have taken them in different directions. Amuka-Bird, who has featured in "Luther", "Small Island" and "Birdland", will play the outwardly successful but unfulfilled Natalie, with Fox, who has featured in "A View From the Bridge" and "Woman in Black: Angel of Death" as Leah, her more grounded friend whose life is also at a crossroads.
Amuka-Bird said: “I couldn't be more excited to be taking on the challenge of playing one of Zadie Smith's characters. She writes vivid, intellectually and emotionally complex women that you can sink your teeth into. NW was my postcode for many years and I was amazed to read a book that so brilliantly and honestly captured the reality of life in one of our most multi-cultural suburbs, so it's thrilling to be involved in bringing it to the screen.”
Smith said: “I am thrilled that NW is being made and especially pleased that Nikki Amuka-Bird is to play Natalie, a powerful stage actress who I know will bring depth and heart to the role.”
Fox said: “Zadie Smith wrote such an honest book about not just North West London but the whole city, and the complex people that inhabit it. Her women in particular are so finely drawn; and Rachel Bennette has done a beautiful job in bringing them to life in this adaptation. It’s such a pleasure to be a part of bringing all this to the screen.”
Saul Dibb, director of "Bullet Boy" and "The Duchess", is to direct the 90-minute drama, and will be making full use of London as a backdrop to the drama. Shooting will take place mainly in North West London, with locations including Kilburn Station and Queen’s Park. The production has also cast supporting artists from the NW area.
Dibb said: “I am incredibly excited to be making the film version of Zadie Smith’s bold and brilliant NW, and bringing to life the real, diverse and vibrant community it reflects. I’m equally excited to be working with an incredible wealth of acting talent. Together our aim is to create a powerful and nuanced picture of modern London life.”
Also starring in the production will be Richie Campbell playing Nathan, and O.T. Fagbenle playing Felix, as well as an "exciting array of fresh new talent" including Rosalind Eleazar as Shar, Ronke Adekoluejo as Grace, and James MacCallum as Tom.
Producing the film is Betsan Morris Evans, and executive producers are Preethi Mavahalli and Damien Timmer for Mammoth Screen, and Lucy Richer and Maxine Watson for BBC Two.