Ben Stiller’s prison escape series, Escape at Dannemora, has officially been greenlit by Showtime, with Paul Dano being the latest star to join the impressive cast. The announcement comes less than a month after initial rumors began to fly that Stiller’s new project would find a home at Showtime and was close to locking in Benecio del Toro, as well as Oscar-winner Patricia Arquette. All three actors are now confirmed for the eight-part series, which will begin production in Upstate New York later this year.
Formerly titled The Clinton Correctional Facility Escape, the retitled Escape at Dannemora details the real life 2015 prison break masterminded by convicted murderers David Sweat (Dano) and Richard Matt (del Toro), with the aid of prison employee Tilly Mitchell (Arquette) – whom both Sweat and Matt had cultivated a sexual relationship with. The bizarre story lead to a three-week manhunt, during which time the convicts almost made it to the Canadian border before Matt was killed and Sweat recaptured.
Confirmation of Escape at Dannemora’s greenlit status as well as its impressive cast comes courtesy of Variety. Aside from directing all eight episodes of the series, Ben Stiller will also executive produce alongside the series’ writers Brett Johnson and Michael Tolkin, with both writers having previously worked on the hit Showtime crime series Ray Donovan. At present the series has no official premiere date, but Stiller did have this to say about exactly what he wished to achieve with Escape at Dannemora:
“We are all very intent on trying to tell this singular story in a way that shows the reality and humanity of the people involved. While the genre is a prison escape story, at its core it is a story about real people, some criminals and some not, who make some bad choices that have huge consequences. I think that’s what’s so compelling about this.”
Patricia Arquette also expressed her excitement for the project, calling it a “fascinating and dark American love story rooted in real and deceptive incarceration.”
With a story as strange and complex as that of Escape at Dannemora as well as a cast made up of some of the biggest names in Hollywood, Stiller will certainly have his work cut out for him. Having previously directed a handful of TV movies and six theatrically released films, Stiller is hardly entering into this project unfamiliar with the demands of heading up a project. However, Escape at Dannemora will mark the first time that Stiller has moved away from comedy and been responsible for something far more dark and dramatic than anything he’s previously done. What’s more, this time around the project is dealing with real life people in an incident that ultimately had tragic consequences.
It will certainly be interesting to see how Escape at Dannemora fares when it arrives on Showtime. All three of its main cast members - Dano, del Toro and Arquette – have a proven track record when it comes to delivering powerful dramatic performances. Fans of true crime stories as well as the talent behind this series will no doubt be eager to see how it pans out, but for now it looks like things are shaping up nicely.
Screen Rant will continue to bring you all the latest news on Escape at Dannemora.