The two Oscar winners are hitting the small screen together in “Gaslit,” which debuts April 24 on Starz. Based on the first season of Slate’s “Slow Burn” podcast, the series follows Martha Mitchell (Roberts), the outspoken wife of U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell (Penn) remembered by history as the unlikely whistleblower who was first to publicly accuse President Richard Nixon of being involved in Watergate.
Penn is virtually unrecognizable under heavy makeup and prosthetics, but the trailer will no doubt have viewers buzzing about Roberts, who shows off a Southern drawl and rocks an epic, early-1970s bouffant. The series also stars Dan Stevens and Betty Gilpin as White House counsel John Dean and his wife, Mo Dean.
Catch the trailer for “Gaslit” below.
Nicknamed “Mouth of the South” during her lifetime, the Arkansas-born Martha Mitchell was a lively figure on the Washington social scene, known for her tirades against the Democratic Party. In 2019, The Washington Post compared her to Republican lawyer George Conway, who publicly criticizes former President Donald Trump in spite of being married to Trump adviser and confidante Kellyanne Conway.
After voicing her suspicions about Nixon in 1972, Mitchell was the subject of a sexist smear campaign, and was reportedly held hostage inside a California hotel room for four days. She died in 1976 at age 57.
Speaking to Vanity Fair in an interview published Wednesday, “Gaslit” creator Robbie Pickering said Roberts was his top choice to play Mitchell, who reminded him of women he knew as a child growing up in a conservative evangelical household.
He also praised the “humanity and warmth” of Penn’s performance.
“I want people to look into these characters and see themselves, and how the propensity to be complicit in things that are morally repugnant or morally dubious is within all of us,” Pickering said.