Taylor Sheridan’s ‘Special Ops: Lioness’: What to Expect

The master of Western dramas and thrillers, taylor sheridan is bringing something new and refreshing with Special Ops: Leona (2023). The filmmaker may be best known for immersing himself in the intricacies of the Wild West, but this upcoming series strays away from his trademark stories and explores the world of spies and secret agents. Special Ops: LeonaSaid to be based on a real-life CIA show, it follows a young Marine who is recruited by the CIA to befriend the daughter of a billionaire with ties to terrorist groups so the agency can take down with the organization.

In addition to the brilliant team of creators of the program, which you will find more about below, Special Ops: Leona also boasts a star-studded cast with some of Hollywood’s A-listers, starting with Nicole Kidman and Zoe Saldana. The show will explore different levels of spy operations where women from all over the world are sent on covert missions. With a diverse, stellar cast and a genre that always draws audiences, Special Ops: Leona It seems to have all the potential of a good thriller. Now, whether or not this new series will live up to the success of Sheridan’s previous projects is something that time will tell. But for now, we can definitely say that this upcoming thriller series will soon join the “Sheridan verse”, which can be characterized by tough and determined characters in dangerous (not necessarily geographically) settings with unexpected plot twists. This goes to show that the fan-favorite storyteller has a lot more to offer than cowboys and outlaws on sprawling ranches.


Ready to arrive this summer, Special Ops: Leona is a highly anticipated show and seems like a must-watch, especially if you’re a fan of spy stories. Check out our quick and comprehensive guide below and find out all the information revealed so far about the plot, trailer, release window, cast, characters, and more. Special Ops: Leona.

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When is Special Ops: Lioness coming out?

Zoe Saldana in Special Ops Leona
Image via Paramount+

Although there is no official announcement of the release date of Special Ops: Leona, the spy drama-thriller series is expected to arrive sometime in the summer of 2023, exclusively on Paramount+. However, it might be a while before you can see Sheridan’s brilliance on screen. Watch this space for the latest update on the show’s official release date.

How many episodes does Special Ops: Lioness have?

Special Ops: Leona is scheduled for eight episodes, according to IMDb. There are no other details available for the episodes yet, but we do know that paul cameron and anthony byrne are credited as directors, while Sheridan serves as showrunner (Thomas Brady he was originally meant to be the showrunner but reportedly left amicably due to creative differences).

Is there a trailer for Special Ops: Lioness?

No official trailer has been released for Special Ops: Lioness yet, but Paramount+ released a set of first-look images via Vanity Fair (which you can see above) in early May 2023. Hopefully we’ll see a sneak peek or full trailer for the upcoming series soon, so you you can keep an eye on this space.

When and where is Special Ops: Lioness being filmed?

The production of the series began in January 2023, in Mallorca, Spain, and is currently in the post-production stage. Formerly titled simply as Lionessthe spy drama-thriller series was renamed Special Ops: Leonain May 2023. Locations where the series was filmed reportedly include Mallorca, Paris, Washington, D.C., and various locations in Maryland.

Related: Every Movie Written By ‘Yellowstone’ Creator Taylor Sheridan, Ranked

Who is in Special Ops: Lioness Cast?

Nicole Kidman, Michael Kelly and Zoe Saldana as the cast of Special Ops: Lioness
Image via Paramout+

In addition to being a Taylor Sheridan project, Special Ops: Leona it is also notable for its cast that includes some of the biggest names in film and television. As mentioned above, the Paramount+ original is directed by Academy Award winner Nicole Kidman and MCU and Avatar star Zoe Saldaña, who are also executive producers of the series. Saldaña plays Joe, the station chief who is in charge of the CIA’s Leonas Engagement Team and is responsible for training, managing and leading new recruits for covert missions. Kidman plays Kaitlyn Meade, a senior CIA supervisor who deals with high-ranking government officials. Although important to the plot, neither of these two characters is the protagonist of the story. The main character, Cruz Manuelos, is played by Laysla De Oliveirabest known for her role on Netflix lock and key. Manuelos is a young marine who becomes an undercover agent tasked with infiltrating a terrorist organization. This is how De Oliveira has described her character: “She comes in to befriend the target’s daughter. So this girl becomes her mark. She wants to get closer to this girl so they can reach the target. But when you hang out with someone every day and get to know them as a human, it becomes very difficult to do what you have to do.”

The three women are joined by Academy Award winner, Morgan Freeman as Edwin Mullins, the United States Secretary of State and Emmy nominee michael kelly of house of cards and jack ryan fame as CIA Deputy Director Byron Westfield. Freeman will also appear in the upcoming movies. 57 seconds and Gunnerwhile Kelly will be the next star in The Penguin and Transformers: Rise of Beasts. Among other characters, 1883 alum Stephanie Nur plays Aaliyah Amrohi, the daughter of a billionaire believed to be financing terrorists, and Bassem Yousef he appears as Amrohi, the billionaire in question. You can also expect to see plenty of cast from Sheridan’s other projects, such as yellow stone‘s Dave Annable as Neil, Joe’s husband; 1883‘s lamonica garrett as Two Cups, a member of Joe’s team, and Kingstown Mayor‘s james jordan like Tucker, another member of Joe’s team. The rest of the cast of Special Ops: Leona it also contains Hannah Love Lanier (The little mighty club) as Kate, the daughter of Joe and Neil; jill wagner (teen wolf) as Bobby, a CIA Special Activities Division agent; austin hebert (Ray Donovan) as Randy, a surveillance specialist; Jonas Wharton (The noob) as Tex, another member of Joe’s team, and Martin Donovan (File 81) like Errol Meade, among others.

Related:’Avatar’ To ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’: Zoe Saldana’s 10 Best Performances, Ranked

What is the plot of Special Ops: Lioness about?

A scene from Special Ops: Lioness by Paramount Plus
Image via Paramount+

This is the official synopsis of Special Ops: LeonaPosted by Paramount+:

“Lioness is based on a real-life CIA program and follows Cruz Manuelos, a tough but passionate young Marine recruited to join the CIA’s Lioness Engagement Team to help take down a terrorist organization from within” .

Who are the creators of Special Ops: Lioness?

Image via 6666 Ranch

Special Ops: Leona is co-created and co-written by Taylor Sheridan and Jill Wagner for Paramount+. A filmmaker synonymous with some of today’s most popular Western dramas and thrillers, Sheridan also serves as an executive producer for the series. Although yellow stone is his first major project and is still considered his most successful project, Sheridan has also previously written and directed the Academy Award-nominated western thriller. Against all odds and the action thriller Those who wish me dead, as well as a number of other acclaimed projects. He is next to be the writer, director, producer and showrunner of the yellow stone cleave, Lawmen: Bass Reevesand earth man. Actress, writer, and producer Jill Wagner has had a host of previous appearances on television shows and movies, including sheet: the movie and teen wolf. This is the first time of her co-creating a show but for a writing debut, Lioness it certainly seems like a great place to start.

Paul Cameron and Anthony Byrne are set to direct select episodes of Special Ops: Leona. Cameron is also the series’ cinematographer and is best known for his previous work on HBO. Western world, for which he also directed a couple of episodes. Cameron is also known for his work in movies like Collateral, Gone in 60 secondsand Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, among others. Director and producer Byrne is best known for his work on Peaky Blinders, ripper streetand the last kingdom. Sheridan, Saldaña and Jill Wagner also serve as executive producers of the series, along with Nicole Kidman, under their production banner, Blossom Films, as well as Bob Yarion behalf of 101 Studios. David C. Glasser, ron burkle, David Hutkin, Geyer Kosinski, michael maloneand John Hillcoat also executive producer.