Director Cary Fukunaga became a favorite of TV critics and discerning viewers with the celebrated first season of HBO’s True Detective and earned similar raves for his follow-up Beasts of No Nation for Netflix. Thus far, however, he’s had difficult lining up future projects, with a much-publicized attempt to turn Stephen King’s It into a feature film franchise collapsing last year and taking a pass on True Detective’s (poorly received) season 2.
Now, fans know what Fukunaga will be doing next: adapting the celebrated Norwegian television series Maniac into a 10 episode Netflix vehicle for Jonah Hill and Emma Stone.
Beginning its original run in 2014, the original Maniac is a dark comedy focusing on a seemingly normal man named Espen who appears to be living a charmed life. He has fantastic adventures, is good at everything he does, is beloved by everyone he meets and succeeds effortlessly. There’s just one problem: None of it is real. In reality, Espen is a severely traumatized mental patient confined to a psychiatric ward, and his “perfect” life is a fantasy he’s retreated into in order to escape his problems; with tensions arising around exactly how aware or unaware Epsen is of his own situation (and the question of whether or not reality or fantasy is where he belongs).
Jonah Hill will play Epsen in the new series, opposite Emma Stone in the female lead role as another patient at the ward who befriends Epsen (or at least attempts to). Paramount TV will produce the series for Netflix alongside Fukunaga’s own Anonymous Content brand. The move comes as part of a broad sweep to court more traditional network-style fare to the streaming service’s original lineup, including sitcoms like Aziz Ansari’s Master of None and Judd Apatow’s Love; not to mention, high-profile network-series revivals like Fuller House and Gilmore Girls.
Hill most recently appeared in the Coen Bros’ Hail Caesar! and will next be seen in Todd Phillips’ dark comedy feature War Dogs as an arms dealer opposite Miles Teller and Ana de Aramas. He’s currently shooting the prestige drama Collateral Beauty with Will Smith, Kate Winslet and Keira Knightley, and is also voicing the character of “Carl” in Seth Rogen’s adult animated comedy Sausage Party. He’s also expected to reprise his 21 Jump Street role in a new sequel that will serve as a crossover between that series and Men In Black, while Stone will next appear in the musical La La Land, opposite Ryan Gosling as a jazz pianist.
Fukunaga’s next (official) project will be The Alienist for the TNT cable network. Based on the book by Caleb Carr, it will follow the late-1890s exploits of a psychiatrist, a crime reporter and future president Theodore Roosevelt (then the Police Commissioner of New York) as they attempt to solve a series of brutal ritual killings in an era where the murders of lower-class citizens are rarely investigated – and the concept of a “serial killer” was not widely believed to exist.
We’ll keep you updated on Maniac as development continues.