In her first major foray into TV series, Rachel Weisz is set to headline and executive produce Dead Ringers, a reimagining with a gender swap of David Cronenberg’s cult classic 1980s film. Amazon has given a straight-to-series order to the project, from Weisz, Alice Birch, lead writer of Hulu’s acclaimed Normal People series, Annapurna Television and Morgan Creek Entertainment, the company behind the original movie.
In Dead Ringers, written by Birch, The Mantle twins, played by Weisz, are the most successful, brilliant and extraordinary people you’ve never met. Identical from head to toe, these two OB-gyn’s are on a mission to change the way women birth, starting with Manhattan. Drugs, pioneering but very much illegal medical research, sex and falling in love, this drama based on the David Cronenberg 80s cult classic, takes us to darker and stranger territory than we could have possibly imagined.
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The original movie starred Irons as twin gynecologists who take full advantage of the fact that nobody can tell them apart, until their relationship begins to deteriorate over a woman. Like other classic Cronenberg films like The Fly and Crash, Dead Ringers plays with themes of sexuality while also intertwining psychological and physical visuals.
While the series is expected to have a similar feel, it is said to have a different tone and explore themes like women’s health and the issues it faces, including underfunding, as it focuses on the two professional women, the Mantle twins, who are excellent at their jobs while also trying to navigate life outside of work. In the series, the Mantle twins share everything: drugs, lovers, and an unapologetic desire to do whatever it takes, including pushing the boundaries on medical ethics in an effort to challenge antiquated practices and bring women’s healthcare to the forefront.
The idea originated with Weisz, who is a fan of the original movie. She partnered with Annapurna TV, and Birch was brought in to write the adaptation on spec. The project, which had been in development at Annapurna TV for about two years, was pitched to streamers via Zoom during the pandemic, with Amazon jumping in with a straight-to-series order. Staffing a virtual writers room is currently underway.
Birch executive produces with Weisz and her manager, Stacy O’Neil, Annapurna’s Megan Ellison, Sue Naegle and Ali Krug as well as Morgan Creek’s James G. Robinson, David Robinson and Barbara Wall. Annapurna TV is the studio.
Weisz was last seen in the Oscar-winning dramedy, The Favourite, which earned her an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress. She followed that up with her first Marvel film landing one of the leads opposite Scarlett Johansson in the Black Widow pic. That film is awaiting its release due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has delayed so many films from premiering.
This marks the first project for Birch following the success of Normal People, which earned rave reviews and landed her an Emmy nomination in the writing for a limited series, movie, or dramatic special.
Annapurna is behind the recently released HBO limited series The Plot Against America from David Simon and Ed Burns. Upcoming Annapurna TV projects include the limited series adaptation of Celeste Ng’s bestselling debut novel, Everything I Never Told You, Monsterland for Hulu, Staircase, starring Harrison Ford for HBO Max and Vanessa Bayer’s Showtime pilot Big Deal.
Current Morgan Creek projects include Stay Tuned at AMC, with a planned theatrical reboot of The Exorcist in the works for 2021.
Weisz is repped by WME, Independent Talent Group and Linden Entertainment. Birch is repped by UTA and United Agents.
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