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March 14, 2021 2:45 pm

Natalie Portman to Play Jewish Housewife Turned Investigative Reporter in New Apple TV+ Series

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Natalie Portman. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Actress Natalie Portman will play a Jewish housewife and mom turned investigative journalist in an upcoming limited series for Apple TV+.

“Lady in the Lake,” based on a 2019 best-selling novel of the same name by Laura Lippman, will take place in 1960s Baltimore, where two unsolved murders push stay-at-home divorced mom Maddie Schwartz (Portman) to pursue her passion for investigative journalism. Joining the local newspaper as a crime reporter, Portman’s character is set “on a collision course with Cleo Sherwood, played by [actress Lupita] Nyong’o, a hard-working woman juggling motherhood, many jobs and a passionate commitment to advancing Baltimore’s Black progressive agenda,” Deadline reported.

The series will be directed by Israeli director Alma Har’el, who directed Shia LaBeouf’s film “Honey Boy,” and who will also write the pilot episode. This will be Portman’s first lead television role and the first television project for Har’el, both of whom are among the show’s executive producers, along with Nyong’o.

Lippman’sLady in the Lake” was inspired by Herman Wouk’s successful Jewish novel Marjorie Morningstar” — which the author re-reads every year — as well as pictures of an old Jewish summer camp shared on social media by fellow author Meghan Abbott, Lippman told The New York Times in 2019. Another source of inspiration was a pair of 1969 murders in Baltimore, where the author was living as a child: the abduction and murder of Jewish 11-year-old Esther Lebowitz and the death of an African American woman named Shirley Parker.

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“I had known about the death of the girl who, in real life, was known as Esther Lebowitz since I was 10 years old,” Lippman told NPR in 2019. “It happened when I was 10 years old. And when you’re 10 years old and an 11-year-old girl has gone missing and then found murdered a couple of days later, it makes a big impression on you.”

Lippman said, “When I decided to write a novel set in the ’60s, I very much wanted to look at these two different deaths and how different they had been portrayed in media. And I was like, well, what could possibly tie them together? I didn’t want to create some huge coincidence. So I thought, well, a woman, an investigator, someone who cared about both deaths could be the thing that connected them.”

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