It’s rare for a story to follow the perspective of a villain. Most times in literature, film, or entertainment in general – the stories follow the good guy, the hero, and the villains are there to battle them in some way for one installment (before losing and never being heard from again). However, in Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley, the protagonist is the bad guy, which might contribute to why it has become such a beloved and popular book series since its publication in the mid-1950s.
The property has had a number of translations onto the big screen throughout the years, with the two most notable being Rene Clement’s 1960 film, Purple Noon, and 1999’s The Talented Mr. Ripley directed by Anthony Minghella (with Matt Damon in the title role). Both movies followed the beginning of Ripley’s endeavours as he deconstructs the life of a man named Greenleaf (played by Jude Law and Maurice Ronet), but it looks like audiences might be in store for more of Ripley’s adventures in the near future.
THR is reporting that Television 360, Endemol Shine Studios, and book publisher Diogenes are currently working on a new adaptation of Highsmith’s beloved book series – this time, for television. Guymon Casady (Game of Thrones), Ben Forkner (Good People), and Phillip Keel will serve as executive producers of the series, with Endemol’s Jeremy Gold overseeing the project. It seems the producers will be looking to attach a writer, director, and major actor for the series though, before shopping it to premium cable networks or streaming services. The series is said to continue off from the story told in Purple Noon and the 1999 film.
Highsmith wrote five novels throughout four decades focusing on Tom Ripley in a series known as “the Ripliad”: The Talented Mr. Ripley, Ripley Underground, Ripley’s Game, The Boy Who Followed Ripley and Ripley Under Water. Ripley is a con artist, impersonator, forger, occasional murderer, and basically amoral psychopath who lives a life of crime – with the novels following his adventures throughout the years.
Highsmith also hinted at a strong sexual ambiguity with Ripley; that was also present throughout most of her other novels, including Strangers On a Train (later turned into the acclaimed film by Alfred Hitchcock), as well as her lesbian-romance novel, The Price of Salt. The latter was just adapted into the Rooney Mara-Cate Blanchett film, Carol, by Todd Haynes that is receiving critical acclaim coming out of this year’s Cannes International Film Festival.
This kind of series might not have landed too well with TV audiences a decade or so ago, but with characters like Don Draper, Walter White, half the characters on Game of Thrones, Tony Soprano, and more – TV is very much living in the age of the anti-hero. Tom Ripley already sounds like a worthy addition to that list; considering the kind of psychological films already made from the property (as well as the success of other Highsmith adaptations), this certainly has a lot going for it. We’ll have to wait and see if a big network like HBO (or platform like Netflix has any interest in the project, though.
The Talented Mr. Ripley is currently in development.