Jessica Plummer as Emma Matthews and David Oyelowo as Edward Monkford in The Girl Before (Credit: BBC)
The Girl Before is BBC One’s last psychological thriller of 2021, adapted from JP Delaney’s best-selling novel of the same name. It stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Jessica Plummer as Jane and Emma, two women who move into the same ultra-minimalist house three years apart: as the series unfold, they gradually realise that architect Edward Monkford (David Oyelowo) may have been involved in the suspicious deaths that have happened in the house.
It’s already proving popular amongst audiences, with the performances in particular receiving a lot of praise. In our review, we highlighted Jessica Plummer as the standout, describing her as “at the heart of (and the reason for) some of The Girl Before’s most memorable scenes”.
The series arrived on HBO Max in the US on February 10 2022 - here’s everything you need to know about the cast of The Girl Before.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays Jane Cavendish
Who is Jane Cavendish?
A financial PR executive, Jane moves into One Folgate Street in the hope that its calm minimalism and austere spaces might help her centre herself after a recent bereavement. However, the mystery of what happened to Emma soon begins to consume her.
Where do I know Gugu Mbatha-Raw from?
Gugu Mbatha-Raw is best known for television series such as Spooks, Undercovers, and Touch, and films such as Miss Sloane, Motherless Brooklyn, and Belle. She can be seen next in Apple TV+ psychological thriller Surface.
If I like her performance here, I should watch…?
You might want to check out The Morning Show. As a piece of television it’s a bit of a mixed-bag, but Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s performance as Hannah Shoenfeld is quietly the spine of the whole series, and she more than holds her own across from (and at times even outshines) established stars like Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carrell.
David Oyelowo plays Edward Monkford
Who is Edward Monkford?
Edward Monkford is the enigmatic architect who designed and owns One Folgate Street – and imposes his exacting rules on any prospective tenants. Confident and controlled, he involves himself closely in the lives of Jane and Emma – and seems to know more than he’s letting on about what happened to the girl before…
Where do I know David Oyelowo from?
David Oyelowo is best known for his film performances, in particular Queen of Katwe and A United Kingdom. Recently he’s starred in both Chaos Walking and The Midnight Sky.
You might also recognise him from television series such as Spooks or the 2018 BBC Les Miserables adaptation.
If I like his performance here, I should watch?
You might want to check out Selma, Oyelowo’s best-known role where he plays Martin Luther King. Though the two characters aren’t particularly alike, Oyelowo has the same charisma and command of the screen in each project, and it’s difficult to imagine either working as well without him.
Jessica Plummer plays Emma Matthews
Who is Emma Matthews?
Emma moved into One Folgate Street three years before Jane, for similar reasons: trying to rebuild her life after trauma, in her case a home invasion. Scared and lonely, as she gets closer to Edward Monkford she distances herself from fiancé Simon – to the point that she might be much more isolated than she realises.
Where do I know Jessica Plummer from?
Jessica Plummer is best known for her role in Eastenders as Chantelle Atkins, though she’s also appeared in films such as How To Talk to Girls at Parties (based on the Neil Gaiman short story of the same name).
You might also recognise her from her band Neon Jungle, or her appearance last year in I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!
If I like her performance here, what should I watch next?
Whatever Plummer does next, really – her performance in The Girl Before is a revelation, and looks like it’ll be the start of an exciting new phase in her career.
Ben Hardy plays Simon Wakefield
Who is Simon Wakefield?
Simon is Emma’s fiancé, insecure but trying to hide it – and as a result never quite striking the right balance between protective and overprotective, respectful or controlling.
Where do I know Ben Hardy from?
Ben Hardy is also a former Eastenders star (though his tenure didn’t cross over with Jessica Plummer’s), though you might also know him from 2018 miniseries The Woman in White.
Plummer is otherwise well known for film appearances in biopics such as Bohemian Rhapsody (as Queen member Roger Taylor) and Mary Shelley (as Dr Polidori), and superhero movie X-Men: Apocalypse.
Who else is in the cast?
Alongside the main cast, The Girl Before also stars Mark Stanley (Sanditon, Anne Boleyn), Francesca Knight (The Outlaws), David Mumeni (Stath Lets Flats), and Jimmy Walker (Save Me).
Who wrote and directed it?
The Girl Before has been adapted by JP Delaney from his own 2018 best-selling novel. Delaney serves as writer and executive producer, though episodes 2 and 3 are also co-written by Marissa Lestrade.
The miniseries is directed by Lisa Bruhlmann, who previously helmed episodes of the second series of Killing Eve.
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