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Everything you need to know about 'The Talented Mr Ripley' Reboot starring Dakota Fanning

The actress stars in 'Ripley' - a Netflix limited series based on Patricia Highsmith 1955 crime novel...

Dakota Fanning as Marge Sherwood and Johnny Flynn as Dickie Greenleaf in Ripley
Becky Donaldson
Feature Director
4 April 2024
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It seems fortuitous that Ripley is launching on the heels of Saltburn being likened to a budget-friendly version of the original 1999 film The Talented Mr Ripley, starring Matt Damon, Jude Law, and Gwyneth Paltrow

This eight-episode limited series, like the film, is based on Patricia Highsmith's 1955 crime novel of the same name. Andrew Scott portrays Tom Ripley, Johnny Flynn is Dickie Greenleaf, and Dakota Fanning plays his girlfriend Marge Sherwood.

“When the chance came to tell the first Ripley novel in long form, rather than just the two hours of a feature, I took it,” says Academy Award winner creator, writer and director Steven Zaillian of the reboot. 

“I felt I could get closer to the rhythms of her tale and Tom's character this way. She sometimes describes events in real time and in great detail, which is quite effective in linking us to Tom Ripley and somehow making us complicit in his crimes, and the longer form allowed me to do this visually.”

Dakota Fanning as Marge Sherwood, Johnny Flynn as Dickie Greenleaf and Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley in Ripley© Courtesy of Netflix
Dakota Fanning as Marge Sherwood, Johnny Flynn as Dickie Greenleaf and Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley in Ripley

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The Plot...

Incase you weren't aware of the log line: Tom Ripley, a streetwise opportunist trying his luck in 1960s New York, is enlisted by the affluent shipping magnate father of Dickie Greenleaf to retrieve his wayward son from Italy. Immersed in the couple's privileged world upon arrival, Ripley finds himself entangled in a web of deceit, fraud, desire and (soz for the spoiler) murder.

Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley
Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley

Ripley is filmed in black and white...

Filmed on location in Rome, Venice, Palermo, Capri, and Atrani on the Amalfi Coast, Ripley diverges from the sun-bleached shores and azure seas depicted in the film, by being shot entirely in black and white. “I always imagined this story in black and white, when I first read the book, and throughout the time I was writing the scripts,” says Zaillian. 

“I never saw it as some sunny colourful postcard of a story, but rather as the foreboding suspense story that it is. It takes place in the winter of 1960, and like many of Highsmith's stories, has a film noir quality to it. Black and white can be striking in a way colour can't be, and I'm grateful Netflix agreed.”

Director Steven Zaillian is a long-time Dakota Fanning Fan...

Dakota Fanning as Marge Sherwood
Dakota Fanning as Marge Sherwood

“I've admired Dakota's performances in films for the past 20 years, but it was her striking role in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood that really grabbed my attention," he says of the actress. 

"It was such a subtly expressive and eerie performance of a character who could not be intimidated. I thought, this is someone who can go toe to toe with Tom Ripley, who is too smart to be conned, who can threaten his schemes — which is an important element to the story. Working with her was a joy. She's a pro.”

Costume Designers Maurizio Millenotti and Gianni Casalnuovo kept things authentic...

This project presented a significant challenge for the wardrobe department, not only due to the large number of characters and extras requiring authentic 1960s period attire, but also because of the commitment to accurately represent the diverse regions of Italy featured in the story.

Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley, Johnny Flynn as Dickie Greenleaf and Eliot Sumner as Freddie Miles
Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley, Johnny Flynn as Dickie Greenleaf and Eliot Sumner as Freddie Miles

“From the feel of La Dolce Vita in Rome, to a more working class wardrobe in Palermo or Atrani, it's always accurate. And even though it was always the intention for Ripley to be in black and white, I asked them to clothe no one in colours, which limited them in a way that made their job even harder than it already was,” says Zaillian. 

Who stars in Ripley...

Eliot Sumner portrays Freddie Miles, Dickie's close friend who grows to mistrust Tom, while Tom, in turn, becomes jealous of Freddie's relationship with Dickie. The late Philip Seymour Hoffman played Freddie in the film. 

John Malkovich as Reeves Minot
John Malkovich as Reeves Minot

John Malkovich played Tom Ripley in a version of Ripley’s Game, around 20 years ago, and in this series is cast as Reeves Minot - a character involved with criminal endeavours who befriends Tom. “The character doesn't appear until the second Ripley book, but I thought it would be interesting to meet him in this first story, and was delighted when John said yes,” Zaillian says.

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