Oscar winner Helen Mirren has joined the cast of Lionsgate’s White Bird: A Wonder Story. Additionally, in the lead roles of Sara and Julien, the studio and filmmakers have cast Ariella Glaser and Orlando Schwerdt. Also, the studio announced that Bryce Gheisar will reprise his role from Wonder.
Helen Mirren will play Grandmère, the Parisian grandmother of Julian Albans, the bully who left Beecher Prep. Bryce Gheisar will reprise his Wonder role as Julian.
Glaser will play Sara, the young Grandmère as a child in Nazi-occupied France. Schwerdt will play Julien, a classmate who, with his parents, hides Sara at great personal risk.
The role of Julien’s mother is played by Gillian Anderson, and was previously announced.
White Bird: A Wonder Story is a creative companion drawn from the universe of the 2017 Lionsgate hit film Wonder.
For millions of readers and moviegoers, Wonder is the captivating, inspiring, and uplifting story of the power of kindness – how it can build bridges and change hearts.
In White Bird: A Wonder Story, kindness even has the power to save lives, as Julian Albans, the bully who left Beecher Prep, is visited by his Grandmère from Paris and is transformed by her remarkable story of compassion and courage.
As a girl in Nazi-occupied France, the young Grandmère goes into hiding with the help of a schoolmate, a young man who risks everything to give her the chance to survive. Together, they find beauty and love in the secret world of their own creation.
From Marc Forster (director of Finding Neverland and Christopher Robin) and based on R.J. Palacio’s book, White Bird, like Wonder before it, is an emotional story about the ways that even in the most harrowing circumstances, empathy for others can make every difference in the world.
Said Forster: “I am deeply honored to have Helen Mirren join us on this journey. Beyond being a brilliant actress, Helen brings an immeasurable level of depth, humanity, and empathy to her roles, elevating any project she is a part of. She is a true artist and I couldn’t be more excited to have her alongside our incredibly talented cast.”
Nathan Kahane, President of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group said: “Helen Mirren is a screen legend — one of our industry’s most accomplished and talented actresses — so, obviously, it’s hugely exciting to know that she loves this story as much as we do and wanted to be a part of it.
He added: “We’re equally excited to showcase Ariella and Orlando’s talents – as they take on their first major roles, they’ll bring heart, emotion, and magnetism to their performances and we are thrilled Bryce will return to bridge his role from Wonder.
“White Bird: A Wonder Story is the kind of movie that the world needs now and it’s a thrill to have these incredible actors bringing to life this story of compassion, empathy, kindness, and hope.”
Marc Forster is directing the project, which recently began production in Eastern Europe. The screenplay adaptation of R.J. Palacio’s book is by Mark Bomback (The Art of Racing in the Rain, War for the Planet of the Apes).
Mandeville Films’ David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman, who produced Wonder, are also producing the new film, along with Palacio. Renée Wolfe, who is a partner in Forster’s 2DUX2, is executive producing and the company will share a presentation credit on the film. Alex Young is executive producing for Mandeville.
White Bird: A Wonder Story is published by Alfred A. Knopf. R.J. Palacio’s books have sold more than 15 million copies with editions published in 53 languages.
James Myers and Aaron Edmonds are overseeing the project on behalf of the studio. Robert Melnik negotiated the deals on behalf of Lionsgate.