With the announcement of the casting of Andrew Scott (Sherlock/Fleabag/Spectre) as strangely likable sociopath Tom Ripley in showrunner Steve Zaillian’s new Showtime series, it looks very much that Neil Cross’s proposed TV series version of Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley novels (collectively referred to by fans as the ‘Ripliad’ which was first revealed back in March 2016) is in the dumpster.
Little was been heard of the Cross show since then; perhaps Cross’s confidence may have been shaken by the failure of last year’s Hard Sun (BBC1) and the mixed record in nailing the complexities of the Ripley character –Alain Delon being nearest the mark in 1960’s Plein Soleil together with Matt Damon in 1997’s remake under the novel’s original title The Talented Mr Ripley, but Barry Pepper decidedly not in 2005’s little seen Ripley Under Ground.
John Malkovich (Ripley’s Game, 2002) and Dennis Hopper (The American Friend, 1977) turned in decent performances in their interpretations of Tom Ripley, but to some readers they were not playing the character from Highsmith’s novels.
Scott appears to have both the charm – and the necessary ambivalent air of suppressed violence to crack the role. Cross has now turned his attentions to an ITV adaptation of his novel Burial, re-named as Because the Night.