Elisabeth Moss will play Typhoid Mary in the upcoming BBC America miniseries Fever. Many people do not know the story behind Mary Mallon, otherwise known as Typhoid Mary. Her nickname has become a phrase or term in everyday life, but some might not even realize that she was once a real person, the first person in the United States to be an asymptomatic carrier of typhoid fever. She was responsible for at least three deaths, possibly many more. The exact number of people infected by her will never truly be known.
Mary Mallon was born in Ireland and immigrated to America in 1883 at the age of 15. She worked as a cook for several wealthy families, and wherever she went, people became ill with typhoid fever. She would leave each job after the outbreaks of illness began, never leaving a forwarding address. A typhoid researcher named George Sopher eventually found her, but she refused to accept responsibility or allow medical testing on herself — since she suffered no symptoms she considered herself blameless. She was quarantined for awhile, but eventually released and changed her name so she could continue to work as a cook. She was returned to quarantine after being caught, but always refused the surgery which could remove the bacteria from her body and spent the rest of her life — almost 30 years — in isolation.
A book about Mallon was written by Mary Beth Keane — titled Fever — and that book is being adapted to a miniseries by BBC America. Elisabeth Moss — who acquired the rights to the novel — will play Mallon. An official statement on the miniseries has now been released:
“New York – May 23, 2017 – BBC AMERICA announced today it will partner with Elisabeth Moss and Annapurna Television on developing the period drama Fever. Based on Mary Beth Keane’s novel of the same name, the limited series is set to star award-winning actress Elisabeth Moss (Handmaid’s Tale, Top of the Lake). Moss, who additionally holds the rights to the novel, will also serve as an Executive Producer on the project. Fever tells the story of the first known healthy carrier of typhoid fever who became known as “Typhoid Mary” as she spread typhoid across the burgeoning metropolis of early twentieth century New York.”
Phil Morrison, director of the Oscar-nominated film Junebug will direct and executive produce Fever, alongside series writer Robin Veith, who was a writer on Moss’ show Mad Men, as well as Syfy’s The Expanse and Outcast on Cinemax. Moss will executive produce as well, and so will representatives of Annapurna Television Sue Naegle and Megan Ellison.
With Moss already starring as Offred in Hulu’s popular series The Handmaid’s Tale — which has been renewed for a second season — she will have to schedule Fever during her hiatus. There are similarities between both those roles, and Moss’ most famous role — Peggy Olson on Mad Men. All three women are controlled by the society they live in and tried to exercise their freedom. But where Olson and Offred struggle against extreme examples of sexism which limit their social status, Mallon simply refused to believe that she was making others sick when she was not sick herself. Even as the people around her died.
Keep checking in with Screen Rant for more information about the future of Fever.