Academy Award winning actress Lupita Nyong’o has pulled out of her co-starring role in the Apple TV + film adaptation of Baltimore author Laura Lippman’s novel, “Lady in the Lake.”
An industry source confirmed that producers are searching for a replacement for Nyong’o, who posted a photograph of herself on Twitter in Baltimore after casting a successful bet Saturday in the Preakness Stakes.
“The stakes were high,” Nyong’o tweeted, “and I won!”
It’s unknown why Nyong’o is leaving the miniseries, a development that was first reported in Variety magazine.
Academy Award winning actress Natalie Portman remains with “Lady in the Lake” as executive producer and co-star, the source said. She plays housewife-turned-reporter Madeleine Schwartz.
This was the second time in two years that Nyong’o pulled out of a film production with Maryland ties. In 2020, she withdrew from filming an adaptation ofChimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s acclaimed novel, “Americanah” for HBO Max after the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc with the film schedule. The project has stalled since then. Adichie divides her time between her native Nigeria and a home in Howard County.
“Lady in the Lake” took place in Baltimore in 1966 and was inspired by two real-life murders. The body of Shirley Lee Wigeon Parker (Cleo Sherwood in the book) was found June 2, 1969, in a fountain at the center of Druid Lake. Parker was a 35-year-old barmaid at the then-famous Sphinx Club.
Just three months later, 11-year-old Esther Lebowitz (in the novel, she’s named Tessie Fine) was murdered in the basement of a popular local aquarium store. The girl’s badly bruised body was found two days later in a wooded area known as a local lover’s lane.
Nyong’o, who in 2014 was selected by People magazine as the world’s most beautiful woman, had been cast as Sherwood, who in Lippman’s book is described as physically stunning. In 2014, Nyong’o won an Oscar as the best supporting actress for her soulful performance in “12 Years a Slave.”
Filming began in Baltimore earlier this month and was originally scheduled to continue through October. It’s unclear whether Nyong’o’s abrupt departure will push that timeline back. In the book, the character of Cleo Sherwood appears in fewer scenes than does the character of Madeleine Schwartz.