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Zero Day Cast, Director, Writers, Plot And More Details

Robert De Niro's filmography is the stuff of legend, but it's been rare to see the actor pop up in a TV property. Even as the Golden Age of TV has descended upon the entertainment world, De Niro has mostly cold-shouldered the small screen. That's about to change, as the "Taxi Driver" and "Meet the Parents" star is set to top-line a Netflix miniseries titled "Zero Day." 

De Niro's resume merely rarely features television projects. However, he did earn Emmy nominations for outstanding lead actor in a miniseries and outstanding television movie for starring in and helping to produce 2017's "Wizard of Lies," in which the actor portrayed convicted financial swindler Bernie Madoff. As a producer, De Niro has also dabbled in television, having produced shows like 2019's "When They See Us" and 2012's "NYC 22."

De Niro, as of late, is just as inclined to appear in an acclaimed movie like "Joker" as he is to star in a VOD action flick like the upcoming "Savage Salvation," but fans can rest easy as the veteran actor is not only starring in "Zero Day" but is also among the show's executive producers, per Variety. So what has drawn De Niro to television after all these years, and what else do we currently know about this project?

When will Zero Day be released?

As of December 2023, there's no firm release date yet for "Zero Day." Netflix, unfortunately, doesn't usually comment on in-development projects, so fans will have to wait on an official teaser from the streamer for a solid release date, per Variety.

Netflix has already invested heavily in the business of Robert De Niro, having previously distributed the Martin Scorsese-directed "The Irishman" in 2019. That gangster epic carried a price tag of $160 million. That same year saw the release of "When They See Us," which De Niro helped produce. That miniseries was nominated for an Emmy for outstanding limited series, and "The Irishman" nabbed a best picture Oscar nomination, so you could say "Zero Day" is set up with an impressive winning streak.

However, it may be a while before we actually see "Zero Day" on the streamer. In June 2023, the New York-based "Zero Day" shut down production due to the WGA strike. With that strike now finished — along with the SAG-AFTRA actors-based work stoppage resolved in November 2023 – production on "Zero Day" resumed in New York City in a matter of weeks. At that rate, "Zero Day" likely won't appear on Netflix until deep into 2024 at the earliest.

What is the plot of Zero Day?

On April 24, 2023, Variety revealed the basic plot of "Zero Day." In this political thriller, Robert De Niro will star as George Mullen, a popular and happily retired former U.S. president who abruptly returns to public service following a worldwide terrorist attack of an electronic nature. Mullen's life gets serious and important again when he's selected to head the commission investigating the causes and culprits behind the event. 

"Zero Day" is classified as a limited series, and Netflix has committed to distributing at least six episodes of the project. De Niro should have some history to call upon for his role, as he's no stranger to rubbing shoulders with leaders of the free world. The actor was awarded the Medal of Freedom by then-President Barack Obama in 2016.

There's no way to tell if it will be an influence on the final product, but De Niro is also rather vocal about his politics. The thespian has long been open about his distaste for former president Donald Trump, a public figure he's criticized repeatedly over the years. Could he be basing this new character in some way on the former commander-in-chief? According to the show's teasing log-line, according to Variety, "Zero Day" will deal with questions like, "How do we find truth in a world in crisis, one seemingly being torn apart by forces outside our control?"

Who is starring in Zero Day?

The cast for Netflix's "Zero Day" is pretty stacked. In addition to starring the iconic Robert De Niro, the series features major talents such as Connie Britton of "The White Lotus," Jesse Plemons of "Killers of the Flower Moon," Lizzy Caplan of "Fleishman is in Trouble," Edi Gathegi of "For All Mankind," and Joan Allen of the "Jason Bourne" films.

De Niro portrays ex-president George Mullen, and all those stars will play his relatives, associates, and allies. Caplan will portray Alexandra Mullen, a member of Congress and Mullen's professionally estranged daughter. Plemons is set to play Roger Carlson, a tenacious Mullen ally from their White House days, eager to get to work again. Allen signed on to portray Sheila Mullen, the president's wife and a federal judge candidate. Gathegi is set to play a government employee and Mullen loyalist named George, while Britton plays Valerie Whitesell, Mullen's former chief of staff.

When filming resumed on the series in December 2023, more major names were added to the cast of the political drama. "Zero Day" is set to feature frequent Emmy and Academy Award nominee Angela Bassett as President Mitchell. Dan Stevens ("Legion") will portray an abrasive, anti-Mullen political TV news personality, Matthew Modine ("Stranger Things") will play Speaker of the House Richard Dreyer, Bill Camp ("The Queen's Gambit") will figure as CIA Director Lasche, and McKinley Belcher III ("Ozark") portrays powerful Department of Justice lawyer Carl Lopez. Smaller and guest roles will be filled by Gaby Hoffmann ("Winning Time"), Clark Gregg ("Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."), and Mark Ivanir ("Away").  

Who is directing Zero Day?

Apart from the fact that it will feature Robert De Niro in one of his extremely occasional forays into prestige television, little is known about "Zero Day" apart from its star and a few crucial members of its creative team. On March 1, 2023, Variety reported that Netflix had officially moved "Zero Day" from its development slate into ordered series territory, while also announcing that the limited-run program had found a director in Lesli Linka Glatter.

Glatter scored a career breakthrough in 1985 with a Best Short Film, Live-Action nomination at the Academy Awards for "Tales of Meeting and Parting." She then found a niche on TV, where she earned six Emmy Awards nominations for helming episodes of "Mad Men" and "Homeland." "Zero Day" fits into Glatter's wheelhouse as a director of quality television, as she's also headed up installments of "The Walking Dead," "The Good Wife," "Grey's Anatomy," "The Leftovers," "Justified," "ER," and "Twin Peaks."

Who is writing and producing Zero Day?

Robert De Niro's "Zero Day" will be written and executive produced by Eric Newman and Noah Oppenheim with a story by Michael Schmidt, per the announcement from Variety. Also among the producers are De Niro and Jonathan Glickman of Panoramic Media. The deal is part of an overall partnership between Newman and Netflix, according to Variety. Oppenheim is also the former president of NBC News.

"Zero Day" is not the only upcoming Netflix series on Eric Newman's plate. He's also a producer on the Netflix limited series "Griselda," starring "Modern Family" star Sofia Vergara as real-life drug queenpin, Griselda Blanco. The six-episode series was celebrated by Vergara. "We are thrilled to have found the perfect partners in Eric, Andrés and Netflix to help us bring this story of her life to the screen," she said in a statement.

Newman previously wrote for Netflix's popular "Narcos" franchise and created the Kevin Hart-starring miniseries "True Story."