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'Gaslit' — cast, release date, plot and more as Julia Roberts and Sean Penn star

Gaslit stars Julia Roberts and Sean Penn.
'Gaslit' stars Julia Roberts and Sean Penn. (Image credit: Getty)

Get ready for Gaslit, especially if you’re nerdy about the Nixon era! The new anthology drama series coming to Starz will lift the lid on the Watergate scandal (yes that political earthquake again!), but its stories are told from many different and unusual perspectives, and not all from immediately within the White House. 

One of the Gaslit stories will focus on the extraordinary role of Martha Mitchell, the eccentric and outspoken wife of President Nixon’s Attorney General John Mitchell. Mouthy Martha is to be played by none other than Julia Roberts, while her powerful political husband John is portrayed by Sean Penn. Suffice to say, we’re salivating about the prospect of this pair, telling this story in Gaslit...

Gaslit release date...

As production of Gaslit only begins this spring, no release date has been set and there's no trailer yet, let alone any on set pictures of the cast in their roles. But it's been recently announced that the drama anthology will be coming to Starz in the US and Canada, and on the streaming platform Starzplay (available on Amazon Prime) in the UK and Europe, Latin America and Japan.

So who was Martha Mitchell?

Gaslit will show how Martha Mitchell was a celebrity socialite and political spouse from Arkansas who became one of the first prominent Republicans to publicly sound the alarm about President Nixon's involvement in the Watergate cover-up, eventually causing his Presidency to implode. It was all the more shocking as her husband John Mitchell was Nixon’s most trusted advisor and best friend. Temperamental, foulmouthed and ruthless — yet hopelessly in love with his famously outspoken wife — John Mitchell was then forced to choose between standing by Martha and the President he serves.

John and Martha Mitchell

The real John and Martha Mitchell whose story will be told in 'Gaslit'. (Image credit: Getty)

More about Gaslit from the creators of the new Starz series...

Christina Davis, President of Original Programming for Starz says: "In Gaslit we not only have the opportunity to tell an incredible untold story in bringing Martha Mitchell’s historic role in Watergate to the forefront, but we are also incredibly lucky to have a dream cast including Julia and Sean and the best creative team and partners we could have asked for. We could not be more excited to bring this story to the global Starz audience and continue the network’s commitment to spotlighting premium stories that appeal to women while super serving our core audience.

"Gaslit is a modern take on Watergate that focuses on the untold stories and forgotten characters of the scandal — from Nixon’s bumbling, opportunistic subordinates, to the deranged zealots aiding and abetting their crimes, to the tragic whistleblowers who would eventually bring the whole rotten enterprise crashing down.

"I’m so happy to have the opportunity to share the heartbreaking, fascinating story of Martha Mitchell with the world," says showrunner and executive producer Robbie Pickering. "Martha was the first and loudest voice to speak out against the bumbling criminality of a crooked Presidential administration and she was one of the most complicated public martyrs of the era. To find anyone willing to tell her story is a dream. I’m over the moon."

US President Richard Nixon

President Richard Nixon was brought down by Watergate as will be shown in Gaslit. (Image credit: Getty)

Has Martha Mitchell been portrayed on screen before?

Yes, and most famously in Oliver Stone’s 1995 movie Nixon, the late comedy actress Madeline Kahn (Blazing Saddles, What's Up Doc, Young Frankenstein) played Martha Mitchell, who shot her mouth off publicly in the film as the Watergate scandal came to public attention, much to the frustration of some in the Nixon administration. Madeline starred alongside Anthony Hopkins as Nixon, while John Mitchell was played by the late E.G. Marshall, famous for his role in Twelve Angry Men.

A brief history of Julia Roberts and Sean Penn…

Julia Roberts has appeared in many of Hollywood’s most successful films, winning an Oscar for her lead role in Erin Brockovich. She’s also remembered for classic movies such as Pretty Woman, Steel Magnolias, Notting Hill and My Best Friend’s Wedding

On TV she's starred in HBO’s The Normal Heart and most recently in Amazon Prime’s series Homecoming. Sean Penn has been nominated for an Oscar five times, winning the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performances in Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River and Gus Van Sant’s Milk. He's also known for being the former husband of Madonna.

Other cast in Gaslit — including Dan Stevens and Betty Gilpin...

Joining the Gaslit cast are Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) and Betty Gilpin (Glow) as early 1970s Washington DC power couple John Dean and his wife Mo. John Dean was the top lawyer within the Nixon administration who eventually turned on the President to make stunning revelations about his boss to the Watergate committee as it investigated crimes and the cover-up, eventually leading to Nixon's downfall. 

Also joining the Gaslit cast are Shea Whigham (Kong: Skull Island) as Watergate burglary organizer G. Gordon Liddy and Darby Camp (Big Little Lies) as Marty Mitchell, the daughter of John and Martha.

Nicholas Cannon

I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s.