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‘My Brilliant Friend’: First Look at HBO’s Eight-Episode Adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s Bestselling Novel

The beloved novel is coming to the small screen, care of a planned eight-episode series on the cable giant.

“My Brilliant Friend”

Eduardo Castaldo

With production currently underway in Italy, HBO has released two first look images at their upcoming adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s bestselling novel, “My Brilliant Friend.” The new images give a glimpse at the series’ central characters — Elena and Lila — played during two key periods in their lives, with newcomers Elisa Del Genio and Ludovica Nasti on board to play the pair as young children, with teenage actresses Margherita Mazzucco and Gaia Girace stepping in for the latter portion of the eight-part series.

Directed by Saverio Costanzo, the show reportedly endured a prolonged casting period of eight months, as HBO notes that “almost 9,000 children and 500 adults from all over Campania” auditioned for parts, and the “casting process included professional and non-professional actors, as well as students recruited from local schools.” All told, the series will include a cast of more than 150 actors and 5,000 extras. That’s not all, though, as the series’ crew were also tasked with recreating the neighborhood at the heart of the story, an ask that included 215,000 square feet of sets, which were built over 100 days.

Per HBO’s official synopsis, “When the most important friend in her life seems to have disappeared without a trace, Elena Greco, a now-elderly woman immersed in a house full of books, turns on her computer and starts writing the story of their friendship. She met Raffaella Cerullo, whom she has always called Lila, in the first year of primary school in 1950. Set in a dangerous and fascinating Naples, their story goes on to cover more than 60 years of their lives as she tries to describe the mystery of Lila, Elena’s brilliant friend and — in a way — her best friend, and her worst enemy.”

The book, the first in Ferrante’s best-selling four-novel Neapolitan Novels series, was released in 2012, and was followed by sequels in 2013, 2014, and 2015. HBO announced the series last May, though it’s been rumored that the entire series will be developed into a massive series, with each book getting its own eight-part series. For now, HBO is staying focused on this first series, which just might prove to be the cable giant’s next big hit.

Check out both photos below:

“My Brilliant Friend”

Eduardo Castaldo

“My Brilliant Friend”

Eduardo Castaldo

“My Brilliant Friend” is an HBO, RAI FICTION and TIMVISION series, produced by Lorenzo Mieli and Mario Gianani for Wildside and by Domenico Procacci for Fandango in co-production with Umedia Production. All episodes will be directed by Saverio Costanzo. Story and screenplays by Elena Ferrante, Francesco Piccolo, Laura Paolucci and Saverio Costanzo. Jennifer Schuur is the executive producer. FremantleMedia International will act as the international distributor.

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