The fictional universes Taylor Sheridan creates aren't just limited to the Montana mountains. His latest venture -- which follows a young marine who's recruited into the CIA's Lioness Program to help bring down a terrorist organization -- might sound like a far cry from the ranches of Yellowstone. But the same themes of justice and grandeur are sure to be present in Lioness.
Sheridan may have conjured up the show (based on a real-life CIA program), but he didn't take over production until June 2022, when producer Thomas Brady left over creative differences. Since then, a slew of stars have come on board to bring this story to life. While some are veteran actors with names you'll recognize, others are making the leap from stage to screen for the first time.
The series is executive produced by Sheridan, David C. Glasser, Saldaña, Kidman, Ron Burkle, Bob Yari, David Hutkin, Jill Wagner, Geyer Kosinski, Michael Malone and John Hillcoat. While this upcoming Paramount+ drama has yet to premiere, its talented cast will surely draw in viewers. Here are some of the actors playing key roles in Lioness.
Laysla De Oliveira as Cruz Manuelos
The Canadian-born Brazilian actress Laysla De Oliveria leads the cast as Cruz Manuelos, a "rough-around-the-edges but passionate young Marine" with a knack for espionage who is recruited into the CIA's Lioness Program. While she may not be a household name to many just yet, De Oliveira has appeared in numerous TV shows and movies like iZombie, Guest of Honour and In The Tall Grass.
She just wrapped up her most notorious role yet as beloved villain Dodge in the hit Netflix fantasy series Locke & Key, which recently aired its third and final season. Fans applauded her work as the mysterious and ever-enigmatic figure, and she's sure to bring the same energy and intensity to Lioness. "So excited to dive into this role and be a part of this extraordinarily written project with these absolute legends!!!" De Oliveria tweeted last year, announcing her casting. "Thank you for making me a LIONESS."
Zoe Saldaña as Joe
From playing Gamora in the Marvel universe to Neytiri in James Cameron's Avatar, Zoe Saldaña is no stranger to starring in blockbuster hits. Now the second highest-grossing film actress of all time is taking a stab at the small screen as Joe, the station chief of the Lioness Program. Joe mentors Cruz while also "training, managing, and leading her female undercover operatives."
Outside of playing major characters in some of sci-fi's biggest franchises, Saldaña was most recently seen alongside other Hollywood heavyweights like Ryan Reynolds, Jennifer Garner, and Mark Ruffalo in the time-traveling drama The Adam Project. In addition to playing Joe, she's also an executive producer for Lioness, something she says she's "wanted to do for a very long time."
Nicole Kidman as Kaitlyn Meade
Another big Hollywood name joining the cast is none other than Academy Award-winning actress Nicole Kidman. Whether you know her for roles in acclaimed dramas like Big Little Lies or The Hours or as the alluring Satine in the hit musical Moulin Rouge!, Kidman is an incontestable force.
In Lioness, she will also be an executive producer and portray Kaitlyn Meade, a senior supervisor with the CIA who expertly navigates the politics of her profession. Her character reportedly must juggle "the trappings of being a woman in the high-ranking intelligence community, a wife that longs for the attention she herself can't even give and a mentor to someone veering suspiciously close to the same rocky road she's found herself on."
Morgan Freeman as Secretary of State Edwin Mullins
Finally, veteran actor Morgan Freeman rounds out the star-studded cast of Lioness. The 85-year-old Oscar winner will play Edwin Mullins, the Secretary of State and a key figure in the CIA's efforts to take down terrorists and rogue nations.
Freeman has played memorable characters from God to Nelson Mandela, and his latest role is sure to be just as impactful. In fact, this isn't the first time he's played a major government figure. His fictional resume boasts titles like CIA director (The Sum of All Fears), U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice (Madam Secretary), and even U.S. President (Deep Impact and Olympus Has Fallen). So his role in Lioness is right up his alley.
Dave Annable as Neil
Dave Annable, who appeared in Yellowstone as John Dutton's son Lee Dutton, will portray Neil, husband of Joe( Saldaña) and the father of their two daughters.
LaMonica Garrett as Tucker
Deadline reports that 1883 star LaMonica Garrett will play Tucker, a CIA Special Activities Division operative.
James Jordan as Two Cups
Mayor of Kingstown actor James Jordan will play Two Cups, another a CIA Special Activities Division operative.
The cast of Lioness also includes Jill Wagner, Austin Hébert, Jonah Wharton, Stephanie Nur, Michael Kelly and Hannah Love Lanier.
When Does 'Lioness' Premiere?
At this time, there is no set release date for Lioness. However, Esquire speculates that the series will launch sometime in late 2023 or early 2024. Sheridan already has his hands full with the recent release of Yellowstone prequel 1923 and the latest season of Mayor of Kingstown.
But whenever Lioness does drop on Paramount+, one thing is certain: fans of Sheridan and his A-lister cast are sure to be in for a treat.
READ MORE: Dennis Quaid Joins Cast of Taylor Sheridan's Upcoming Paramount+ Series ' 'Bass Reeves'
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