Lupita Nyong'o Leaves Apple TV+ Crime Series Lady In The Lake

Lupita Nyong'o has dropped out of the upcoming Apple TV+ series, "Lady in the Lake," based on the New York Times-bestselling crime novel by Laura Lippman. Nyong'o was set to costar opposite Natalie Portman, who is also executive producing the series, which is currently in production. However, she has reportedly exited the project and the search is now underway for a new actress to serve as the co-lead.

No reason was given for Nyong'o's departure from "Lady in the Lake," but Variety likens it to when she stepped down two years ago from another streaming adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's "Americanh." An HBO Max series was on the way, but the production ultimately ran into trouble due to "scheduling issues caused by the pandemic."

Created by Alma Har'el, "Lady in the Lake" is, as we previously reported, a '60s period piece set in Baltimore, "where an unsolved murder pushes housewife and mother, Maddie Schwartz (Portman) to reinvent her life as an investigative journalist and sets her on a collision course with Cleo Sherwood, a hard-working woman juggling motherhood, many jobs, and a passionate commitment to advancing Baltimore's Black progressive agenda." The series was inspired by two real-life disappearances in Baltimore, and Nyong'o would have played the Sherwood role.

Ghosts and Marvel commitments

In the book, per Lippman's website, Sherwood is one of the two missing women and her ghost "is determined to keep her secrets and her dignity." She appears to "the ambitious Maddie," scolding her for "poking around in a young Black woman's life" and being more interested in her death.

This sounds suspiciously like it could be playing, either consciously or unconsciously, on a certain outmoded "magical" trope. Yet the description of Sherwood in the series adaptation makes it seem like she's very much alive, "juggling motherhood, many jobs, and a passionate commitment to advancing Baltimore's Black progressive agenda."

Hopefully, we can give "Lady in the Lake" the benefit of the doubt and trust that if Nyong'o (who deserved an Oscar nomination for her performance in "Us") was attached to it, it wasn't going to perpetuate any backward tropes. Both Portman and Nyong'o have Marvel commitments, of course, with Portman bulking up for "Thor: Love and Thunder" and Nyong'o due to reprise her role as Nakia in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever." The latter film's production was delayed again earlier this year due to positive Covid tests, so it's possible the rescheduling may have had something to do with Nyong'o's exit from "Lady in the Lake."

For now, if you want to see Natalie Portman and Lupita Nyong'o onscreen together, you'll just have to hope their Marvel characters cross paths at some point, or Lucasfilm decides to do a Queen Amidala and Maz Kanata "Star Wars" crossover.