'Prime Suspect' reboot: Will Maria Bello star? -- EXCLUSIVE

Image Credit: Albert L. Ortega/PR Photos

Has NBC already found the actress who will play the very demanding role of Det. Jane Tennison?

EW has learned exclusively that Maria Bello — who appeared on the Peacock’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit last year — has been approached about headlining the Prime Suspect reboot that’s in the works for the fall.

“There may be interest in me doing it, but I haven’t read anything yet or talked to anyone in-depth about it,” Bello told EW exclusively while attending the 10th Annual Movies For Grownups Awards on Monday. “I’m possibly interested. 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?  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.”

Prime Suspect was first dusted off last season as a potential midseason replacement for the 2010-11 season, but the project never made it to pilot for a number of reasons, including NBC’s inability to find someone to play Tennison. Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights) is now shepherding the reboot of the British police procedural drama from the ’90s that starred Mirren. Desperate Housewives producer Alexandra Cunningham will serve as the showrunner.

Bello is one of those veteran actors whose name tops the wish list of every network each development season. There are many film actors who seem ready to follow in the footsteps of Kyra Sedgwick, Glenn Close, Holly Hunter, and Toni Collette and make the transition to the small screen. But it’s difficult for CBS, NBC, ABC, and Fox to recruit such high-profile women because the broadcast network schedule (i.e. the 22-episode commitment that’s required) can be very demanding. Elisabeth Shue, for example, was eyed early on to star in The Good Wife, but she wanted to spend more time with her kids. — With additional reporting from Carrie Bell

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Comments (40 total) Add your comment
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  • Chris

    Rachel Dratch would own this role. Relax, I’m kidding.

    • LOL

      Bello and Dratch would be the Lennon and McCartney of Prime Suspect.

  • John

    I’m not looking forward to a show that will inevitably feel like a pale hyrbid of The Closer and the original Prime Suspect. Still, Bello deserves success. She should already have two Oscars nods by now one for A History of Violence and another for The Cooler. Good luck.

  • UGH

    Bello belongs on a HBO or Showtime show where she can get naked as much as possible.

    • the_girl

      Co-sign. She is gorgeous.

      • brutony

        Double co-sign me up for that! However, looking at this pic makes me think shes lost too much weight-come on, this woman was no wheres near heavy, and now shes all bones-yuck!

  • Jack

    Kathy Bates should have held out for this instead of “Harry’s Law.” She’d be a perfect American Tennison.

    • mari

      I was thinking about her when I read the story.

    • MB

      Bates would have made an interesting choice.

  • Josh

    Anyone else find it strange that they call Mario Bello a “Law and Order SVU” actress. She’s appeared in tons of movies….

    • Snsetblaze

      And I may be wrong and am to lazy to look it up, but wasn’t she origianlly from ER?

      • CPost

        Yes, she played a pediatrician for a couple of seasons; I believe involved with Noah Wylie’s character.

  • Will

    The Closer already happened. That’s basically an American version of Prime Suspect with a little more humor.

    • Brian K


    • Buffy Freak

      The Closer is an enjoyable enough show but it can’t touch Prime Suspect.

  • E.

    Bello’s extremely talented–I agree with the above poster who said she should have already racked up a couple of Oscar nods at this point. Prime Suspect would be lucky to have her!

    • veronica


  • ceebee

    I’m not feeling Bello for the part….Joan Allen or Patricia Clarkson were more interesting choices IMO……in any event – it will be very difficult to replace Mirren….

  • TVFan

    I think another reason the show was pulled last year was that Julianne Moore was approached to star, but turned it down.

  • FromChicago

    I don’t believe in this day and age an ‘actress’ would turn down a meaty TV role like the good wife. No way! There had to be more to it, like “not enough money?”

  • Shawn

    Alberta Watson should play Lt. Tennison. Amazing underexposed actress.

    • Joe

      That’s a good call – and she’s unknown enough that she could own the role

  • Till

    What about Jodie Foster? She can compete with Mirren.

  • orchard

    Helen Mirren played Tennison as a fairly gruff, un-feminine woman, a female who built her career in a male dominated profession. I think that Maria Bello could do sort of character that well.

  • Bob Smith

    Great casting but a show like this will fail on broadcast TV. Bello should only sign on if it was on basic cable minimum and be jumping at the chance if it was going to be on premium cable

  • adnaper

    Boo! Bello is too attractive and glamorous; why does American TV always have to glamorize every role. Jane Tennison deserves a better actress who wouldn’t pale by comparison to Helen Mirren. (I know that’s a tall order).

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