Thandie Newton Joins Cast of Half of a Yellow Sun Film

Thandie Newton/Photo: <a href=CC/mattsadventure/Flickr" />
Thandie Newton/Photo: CC/mattsadventure/Flickr

Nigerian and British filmmakers are joining forces to adapt O. Henry Prize-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's bestselling novel Half of a Yellow Sun for the movies. Adichie's novel, the second of her two (so far), is set during the African republic of Biafra's struggle for independence in southeastern Nigeria in the late '60s. Adichie tells the story of the Nigerian-Biafran War bringing in five perfectly wrought characters: the thirteen-year-old houseboy Ugwu, who works for university professor Odenigbo; Odenigbo's beautiful mistress Olanna; Olanna's headstrong twin sister Kainene; and Richard, an Englishman infatuated with Kainene.

The novel, published in 2006, was met with praise upon its release and went on to win the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction. Adichie, herself a Nigerian citizen and half-year resident, brought together the experience and knowledge gained during her Nigerian upbringing with the writing skills she honed at Johns Hopkins University to create a novel that "simultaneously devours and ennobles, and in its freely acknowledged invention comes to be truer than the facts upon which it is built."

So who's getting in on the project, currently slated for a 2013 release? British producers Andrea Calderwood ("The Last King of Scotland") and Gail Egan ("The Constant Gardener") are putting the money up for the film. Nigerian playwright Biyi Bandele, who has spent a fair amount of time on the London theater circuit, will make his directorial debut with Yellow Sun. Bandele is already hard at work assembling a fabulous cast, which thus far includes Chiwetel Ejiofor ("Salt," "Children of Men"), Dominic Cooper ("An Education," "My Week with Marilyn"), and Thandie Newton ("Crash," "Beloved").

The film is still a while down the pipeline but we're excited to see how the project and the rest of the cast come together. For a peek at what to expect from the story itself, read an excerpt from Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun.