In an age when most cooking shows have a reality-competition component, Julia Child somehow retains her cultural cache. Months after the release of the documentary Julia, HBO is cashing in on the popularity of its subject by announcing another Julia, a TV drama based on the life of The French Chef star.
Rather than focusing on how Julia Child became a published cookbook author in her 40s, like Julie & Julia, HBO focuses on her life as a television pioneer. Beginning in 1963, Child hosted The French Chef, a groundbreaking public television cooking program that, well, taught millions to heat up food in a way that tastes good. It turns out you can’t just dump a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese into a blender, add some ice-cold water, and end up with dinner. No, Julia Child, pulling the pans off that pegboard of hers, made French cuisine accessible to everyone.
Don’t worry: This isn’t one of those encase the actors in prosthetics to look precisely like a beloved historical figure. Instead, prolific English actor Sarah Lancashire will play Child, picking up the proverbial spatula from Meryl Streep, who received an Oscar nod for playing Child in Julie & Julia. And yes, Lancashire nails Child’s unmistakable baritone if you’re still wondering.
However, perhaps the real casting coup goes to David Hyde Pierce, who plays Paul Child, Julia’s husband. This casting is inspired. Not because Pierce looks like Paul or anything, but rather because Stanley Tucci played him in Julie & Julia, and who the hell wants to follow that? Pierce seems like he’ll please Child stans (who simply must be called “the children”).
Julia is a very prestigious HBO show, so the cast is stacked. Bebe Neuwirth, Brittany Bradford, Fran Kranz, and Fiona Glascott round out the main cast, while Isabella Rossellini, Judith Light, and James Cromwell will pop in for some guest spots. Who wouldn’t want all those stars in a bouillabaisse or a nice stew? Mmm…James Cromwell stew.
Julia premieres on HBO Max on March 31