Step aside Mr. Darcy and Anthony Bridgerton — Regency-era London has a new most eligible bachelor.
Based on Suzanne Allain’s romance novel of the same name, “Mr. Malcolm’s List” centers on the titular Mr. Malcolm (Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù of “His House”) who has impossible standards for his bride to be. Mr. Malcolm jilts love interest Julia Thistlewaite (Zawe Ashton) after she fails to meet one of his requirements, and Julia enlists best friend Selina Dalton (Freida Pinto) to go full “John Tucker Must Die” on Mr. Malcolm — aka, pretend to be his perfect woman with the intentions of duping the dumper into now becoming the dumpee.
“Emily in Paris” breakout Ashley Park and “The Time Traveler’s Wife” heartthrob Theo James also star, alongside Oliver Jackson-Cohen of “The Invisible Man” and “The Haunting of Bly Manor” and “Hill House” fame.
The film premieres in theaters July 1, with Bleecker Street distributing the title. Emma Holly Jones directs the feature after helming the 2019 short film adaptation. Jones discovered Allain’s novel and the author’s subsequent screenplay on the Black List, which annually touts the year’s best unproduced screenplays.
While preparing “Mr. Malcolm’s List,” Jones was inspired by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway hit “Hamilton” to bring the novel to life with a racially inclusive cast for the Regency era, a la Shonda Rhimes’ hit Netflix series “Bridgerton.”
Lead star Dìrísù, who is British-Nigerian, worked with director Jones to include a scene where his Mr. Malcolm speaks Yoruba.
“I was conscious of not color-washing the story,” Dìrísù told Vanity Fair. “I didn’t want this to just be a white character played by a person of color. I wanted him to feel like a real, lived-in person.”
Dìrísù, whom Jones has deemed the “new Mr. Darcy,” originally shied away from Regency-era pieces.
“There were no stories of color being told in those films,” the “Gangs of London” star said. “Many young, white British actors would leave drama school and get a period drama, and that would be their route to success.”
But “Mr. Malcolm’s List” proved to mark a turning point for the period romance genre. As co-star Pinto added, “No matter who you are or what race you belong to, your stories are still relevant.”
Check out the trailer below.
“Mr. Malcolm’s List” premieres July 1.