The Tall Man

Variety is reporting that former 7th Heaven star Jessica Biel is returning to TV, with a lead role in the new USA pilot The Sinner. Based on the novel by German writer Petra Hammesfahr, the series will see Biel play a mild-mannered woman who has a sudden and inexplicable violent outburst, leading to the death of a stranger. Despite the case for murder being open-and-shut, a local police officer becomes obsessed with discovering the woman’s motive, delving into her psyche to find the reasons buried within.

The Sinner would be Biel’s first major TV role since she departed 7th Heaven back in 2003, amidst a minor flurry of controversy that seemed to suggest she was chafing under the show’s family-friendly image. Since then, she’s had a number of high-profile film roles, including starring in The Illusionist, the Total Recall remake, and as part of the recurring ensemble in the late Garry Marshall’s “holiday” films. (She also starred in the underrated psychological horror film The Tall Man, which suggests she might have a knack for the kind of hidden madness USA’s new show demands.)

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The Sinner is being written by The Astronaut Wives Club’s Derek Simonds, working with Simon Killer director Antonio Campos. Biel will also executive produce.