‘Phantom Thread’ Oscar Nominee Lesley Manville to Headline Channel 4’s ‘I Am Maria’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Lesley Manville, Oscar and BAFTA nominee for “Phantom Thread,” leads the cast of “I Am Maria,” the next instalment of Dominic Savage’s “I Am” anthology series for U.K. broadcaster Channel 4.

Manville, who will take over from Helena Bonham-Carter in the role of Princess Margaret in the final seasons of Netflix series “The Crown,” was recently honored as a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) for her services to drama and charity.

Production for “I Am Maria” commenced Tuesday in London and will explore issues of identity, doubt and the painful cracks that can slowly form in lifelong relationships. It was developed by the BAFTA-winning Savage (“When I Was 12,” “Nice Girl”) in collaboration with Manville. Joining her in the cast are Michael Gould (“Darkest Hour”) and Gershwyn Eustache Jnr (“Small Axe”).

Manville said: “For me, collaboration is everything. To be able to combine different creative minds and produce a work of drama is a thrilling privilege. Dominic and I have spent the past few months developing a character and scenario that will touch many people I know. This kind of work is not new to me and I’m relishing the chance to flex my improvising muscles once again.”

Savage added: “With ‘I Am Maria,’ we will be exploring urgent and prescient themes that show what it is like to completely and dramatically change one’s life in a way that is unthinkable and heart-breaking, yet very empowering. It’s going to be quite a journey, and I can’t wait to get started.”

Krishnendu Majumdar, producer and co-founder of producer Me+You, said: “We’re excited about continuing our creative relationship with Dominic Savage, one of the most distinctive and powerful filmmakers working today and thrilled to be working with the brilliant Lesley Manville — one of the country’s greatest actors working today.”

Caroline Hollick, head of drama for Channel 4, said: “Lesley Manville is a screen legend, and I’m delighted she’s returning to her improvisatory roots to co-create this powerful, inspirational story.”

Produced by Emmy-winning Me+You Productions (“Hoff the Record”), the three-parter, which is the second season of the “I Am” series, entered production last year with “I Am Victoria,” starring BAFTA-winning actress Suranne Jones alongside Ashely Walters, followed by “I Am Danielle,” starring BAFTA Rising Star winner Letitia Wright.

The series debuted in 2019, with BAFTA-winning Vicky McClure starring in “I Am Nicola”; Oscar nominated and BAFTA-winning Samantha Morton starring in “I Am Kirsty”; and Gemma Chan starring in “I Am Hannah.”

“I Am” is co-funded by Sky Studios and distributed by NBCUniversal Global Distribution.

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