Maria Bello Takes on Helen Mirren’s ‘Prime Suspect’ Role

Mario Bello, Helen Mirren (L-R)

A History of Violence actress Maria Bello is the new Jane Tennison, Entertainment Weekly has revealed. God help her.

As previously reported, NBC is developing an New York-set remake of the BAFTA-winning Prime Suspect, the UK police drama starring Helen Mirren as Tennison, a female Detective Chief Inspector battling sexism on a male-dominated force. The gritty and often gruesome British series became iconic and had an interesting rollout schedule: seven brief Prime Suspect mini-series premiered between 1991 and 2006 in the UK.

However, if NBC picks up the remake, it will become your typical 22-episode American procedural. Last week, in a piece for Salon, Matt Zoller Seitz wrote that American TV’s “get-it-done factory mentality” could potentially destroy the series: “You can’t re-create or even approximate Prime Suspect in a commercial broadcast network series that airs 22 episodes a year. The material can’t breathe in the same way. And forget about being unflinching.”

The American-born Bello feels the weight of stepping into a role that solidified Helen Mirren’s reputation as one of the world’s finest actress. She tells EW: “Definitely nervous to even think about taking over for Helen Mirren. C’mon! How could anyone compete with her? Didn’t she do about 10 of them and win an Emmy every time?  [Note: Mirren won two.] I’m open to things right now. I’m just trying to go with the flow of my life and I’ve been going back-and-forth to Haiti trying to help out. That has felt good, but I am also wanting to do something spectacular with my life work-wise and that may end up being it.”

A fine actress, Bello has acquitted herself well in movies like The Cooler, A History of Violence, and World Trade Center. But the comparisons to Mirren will be brutal.

Here’s the trailer for the final Prime Suspect with Mirren. This is harsh stuff: audio NSFW.

Related: Is a New British Invasion Happening Right Now?

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

See more posts by Kevin Wicks