Steve Zaillian is working to bring The Talented Mr. Ripley to television in a new series that is currently being shopped around to a number of interested networks. In her career, author Patricia Highsmith created many memorable characters and stories, but none have left a mark on popular culture quite like the murderous conman Tom Ripley, the lead character of several novels by Highsmith.
The character’s knack for reinvention seems to be apply to the world of entertainment as well, as Ripley has been the subject of numerous film and TV adaptations over the years. Though most will likely recognize Tom from Anthony Minghella’s 1999 film The Talented Mr. Ripley, starring Matt Damon in the title role, as well as Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, the character has been appearing in films since 1960. That film, Purple Noon (or Plein Soleil), starred French actor Alain Delon as Ripley. Meanwhile, other film adaptations have seen Dennis Hopper, John Malkovich, and even Barry Pepper in the role of Tom Ripley.
Now, it seems that the character is destined to become another prestige drama in the age of Peak TV, as Deadline reports Academy Award-winner Steve Zaillian is set to launch a new series based on Highsmith’s novels. According to the report, Zaillian, who is returning to TV for the first time since his Emmy-winning The Night Of aired on HBO in 2016, will write and direct much of the new series. At the moment, The Talented Mr. Ripley is seeking a home, and considering the acclaim that typically accompanies Zaillian’s name (he’s also the credited screenwriter for Martin Scorsese’s upcoming Netflix film The Irishman), it’s a good bet that multiple outlets will be interested in seeing Tom Ripley join their catalog of original content.
Zaillian will reportedly be using all five of Highsmith’s novels as inspiration for the series, one that will track the character’s evolution from gifted mimic to conman to murderer. It’s the sort of text that will no doubt make good use of television’s longform storytelling, as well as Zaillian’s ability to track the moral and emotional complexities of a character like Tom Ripley.
There’s no word on whether or not Luther creator Neil Cross will be involved in the project, as he was reportedly working on a similar adaptation back in 2016. That series was also produced by Endemol Shine, so it stands to reason the project has changed hands and that Zaillian has assumed the reins. With any luck, a deal will the struck with a network or streaming service soon and Zaillian can get to the business of casting his Tom Ripley.