The coming-of-age drama is set in the early 1960s and focuses on a young woman, Sister Cathleen (Qualley) training to become a nun and in the process starts to question her Catholic faith, the changing church, and her sexuality. Agron plays another nun in the convent. Leo will play the Reverend Mother.
The trio heads an almost all-female cast, which includes Julianne Nicholson (Black Mass), Stacy Martin (Nymphomaniac), Rebecca Dayan (The Childhood of a Leader), Morgan Saylor (Being Charlie) and Maddie Hasson (I Saw the Light). The only current male in the cast, Chris Zylka, who stars with Qualley in The Leftovers, will play a character seen in flashbacks.
Margaret Betts will make her feature screenwriting and directorial debut with Novitiate. Variety quotes Betts as wanting “to explore a story about the ways in which women love.”
The film is produced by DeerJen Films’ Jen Gatien. “Novitiate is the female answer to male-bonding films like Platoon or The Hurt Locker,” said Gatien. “More significantly, it stands as an extraordinary opportunity to challenge the prevalent norms in Hollywood by not only featuring an entirely female-leading cast but also a female writer/director, producer and DP.” Gatien is referring to Director of Photography Kat Westergaard.
Leo will be reprising her role as Secretary of Defense Ruth McMillan in Babak Najafi’s London Has Fallen, a sequel to 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen starring Gerard Butler (Coriolanus) and Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman (Lucy), who will both be returning as well. She will also be appearing next year in Oliver Stone’s Snowden, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Walk).
Agron played the character of Quinn on TV’s Glee from 2009-2015. She will be starring in Mark Polish’s CIA drama Headlock, and in Scooter Corkle’s Hollow in the Land, both scheduled to be released in 2016.
Novitiate starts filming in January in Nashville.