Helen Mirren joins cast of Thursday Murder Club adaptation

Sir Ben Kingsley, Dame Helen Mirren and Pierce Brosnan will star in the new adaptation
Sir Ben Kingsley, Dame Helen Mirren and Pierce Brosnan will star in the new adaptation

Dame Helen Mirren will star alongside Pierce Brosnan and Sir Ben Kingsley in the Hollywood adaptation of Richard Osman’s bestseller The Thursday Murder Club.

They will play the residents of a luxury retirement community who band together to solve a murder.

The casting will delight fans, who regularly told Osman that Dame Helen would be the perfect casting for Elizabeth, a formidable ex-spy. And the age-appropriate choices – Dame Helen is 78, Sir Ben is 80 and Brosnan is 70 – represent an about-turn for the producers.

When the film was in its early stages of development with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin production company, the plan was to cast 50-somethings and age them up with prosthetics, meaning that they could continue to play the roles for years in a series of sequels.

Osman said in 2021: “With films, of course you’re filming one every two years or so, so filming four [would mean] they’re going to be eight years older than they were on film one.

“So the Hollywood thing, by and large, is that you get people you can age up a little bit.

“They might have people in their 50s and 60s playing people in their 70s. I think that’s the tactic ... do a little bit of a make-up job.”

‘Most handsome man in the world’

However, that idea has been ditched. Announcing the names on his podcast, The Rest Is Entertainment, Osman said: “I’m now allowed to officially announce three of the four members of The Thursday Murder Club.

“Elizabeth is going to be played by the person who people most often shout at me in the street as them wanting to play Elizabeth … Helen Mirren.

“Ibrahim [a psychiatrist] is Sir Ben Kingsley, and then for Ron – and Ron, if people haven’t read the book, is a Left-wing, bruiser, ex-trade union official – Ron is going to be played by the most handsome man in the world, so he’s going to have to dumb himself down a bit … Pierce Brosnan.”

Helen Mirren
Dame Helen Mirren will star in The Thursday Murder Club adaptation as Elizabeth - Dan Doperalski/Getty Images

The fourth lead, retired nurse Joyce, is yet to be announced “but again the name is the one that people most shout at me in the street”.

Osman has previously said that fans want Dame Penelope Wilton for the part, although his mother has also
suggested Imelda Staunton and Celia Imrie.

Filming takes place this summer and the director is Christopher Columbus, whose credits include Home Alone, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and the screenplay for The Goonies.

Osman tweeted that the casting is “insanely great, I think people are going to love it”.

Over a million copies sold

The Thursday Murder Club has sold more than a million copies and is the second fastest-selling debut adult novel of all time, behind JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy.

Osman has won praise for celebrating the wit and intelligence of older people, and previously said: “I think about invisibility as we get older and the way we no longer have use for people as they get older, just at the point where actually they know more than they’ve ever known before and they’ve got a lot of time on their hands.

“People say sometimes, ‘How do you get inside the head of a 75-year-old woman?’

“And you think, well, it’s the same as the head of a 45-year-old man or a 25-year old woman. Our brains don’t change.

“We’re the same person and we have the same desire for adventure and novelty and new friendships.”

Osman’s mother, Brenda, lives in a retirement village in Sussex, and the setting provided him with inspiration for the stories.