Everything to Know About Netflix's 'Ripley'

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Andrew Scott in 'Ripley.'

Andrew Scott is already well known to TV fans for his performance in two fan favorite roles: Moriarty in the BBC series Sherlock, and the Hot Priest in Fleabag’s second season. Next, he’s tackling another iconic character in Tom Ripley, the chameleonic protagonist in a series of novels written by Patricia Highsmith. On screen, Ripley has previously been played by Matt Damon and John Malkovich, but Scott is sure to put his own stamp on this complex and incredibly dark role. Here’s what we know so far about Netflix’s Ripley, from cast to release date.

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What is Netflix's Ripley about?

Ripley is a psychological thriller which centers on Tom Ripley (Scott), a sharp-witted grifter who is “scraping by in 1960s New York” when the show begins. Everything changes for him when a wealthy shipping magnate hires him for an unusual mission: travel to Italy, and convince the man’s wayward son Dickie Greenleaf (Johnny Flynn) to return home to America. After accepting this job, Ripley takes “the first step into a complex life of deceit, fraud and murder,” fueled by his mounting obsession with Dickie.

Is Ripley based on a book?

Ripley is based on The Talented Mr. Ripley, Patricia Highsmith’s 1955 novel. This book was the first in what became a series of book following the character of Ripley, a con artist from mysterious origins whose sociopathic tendencies are gradually revealed as he infiltrates the lives of Dickie Greenleaf and his wife, Marge (played in the series by Dakota Fanning) in the quaint Italian town where they’re living.

“Tom Ripley is a part of our consciousness,” series creator Steve Zaillian told Vanity Fair. “Almost 70 years after Highsmith created him, contemporary figures are still being compared to him. He won’t go away.” He went on to say that adapting the book into a series rather than a feature allowed him to “be more faithful to the story, tone, and subtleties of Highsmith’s work.”

Is Ripley based on a movie?

Although the series is based on Highsmith’s original novel, it will inevitably drawn comparisons to the acclaimed movie adaptation, The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999). Directed and written by Anthony Minghella, the movie stars Matt Damon in the title role, and was both a worldwide box office hit and a critical success, ultimately scoring five Oscar nominations including Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Jude Law, who played Dickie.

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Who is making Ripley?

All eight episodes of Ripley will be written and directed by Steven Zaillian, who’s best known for co-creating the 2016 HBO crime thriller The Night Of, but has also written the screenplays for a number of classic movies including Schindler’s List, Gangs of New York and more recently The Irishman.

Ripley was originally ordered to series at Showtime back in 2019, but later moved to Netflix after Showtime’s merger with Paramount+ led to a creative shake-up at the cable network.

Who is in the cast of Ripley?

Here are the cast members who have been confirmed so far.

Andrew Scott

“It was a heavy part to play,” Scott told Vanity Fair of Ripley. “I found it mentally and physically really hard. That’s just the truth of it. I suppose the journey to understanding this character was a less arduous one than trying to understand what Tom Ripley does. Certain things I can understand, but other things—it’s actually the blankness that’s sometimes hard to engage with.”

During a conversation with Ben Whishaw for Interview magazine in 2021, Scott also discussed Ripley’s sexuality, which has been approached differently in adaptations—the Anthony Minghella movie, for instance, emphasizes the homoeroticism of his obsession with Dickie.

“I’m interested in the idea of what queerness is, and otherness, because that’s what I think it’s about,” Scott said. “The reason he’s such an interesting character is you can’t quite place him. If Tom Ripley was in a gay bar, I’m not sure that he would fit in there. Nor do I think he’s a straight character. I think he’s a queer character, in the sense that he’s very other. What’s his relationship with sex, or death, or with family or friends? It’s interesting that a character is the sum of the parts that you don’t have to play.”

Dakota Fanning

Fanning plays Marge Sherwood, who is Dickie Greenleaf’s girlfriend. Initially she warms to Ripley, but eventually she begins to question his motivations and glimpses a darkness lurking behind his surface charm. She was played by Gwyneth Paltrow in the movie.

Johnny Flynn

Flynn plays Dickie Greenleaf, a playboy dilettante whose wealthy father is sick of him cavorting around Europe with no direction—hence the hiring of Ripley, who’s tasked with bringing him back to the States. Unsurprisingly, things don’t go entirely to plan.

John Malkovich

Malkovich is part of the Ripley cast, although his role hasn’t yet been confirmed. No matter who he’s playing, his casting is a fun easter egg for Ripley fans, because he played the title role in the 2002 movie adaptation Ripley’s Game, which is based on the third novel in Highsmith’s series.

Eliot Summer

Summer plays a recurring role in the series—an as-yet-unnamed friend of Dickie’s who becomes suspicious of Ripley. She might be seen as an equivalent to the role played by Philip Seymour Hoffman in the 1999 movie.

What is the release date for Ripley?

Ripley will premiere on Netflix on April 4, 2024.

How many episodes are in Ripley?

The first season of Ripley will be eight episodes long. Zaillian has optioned all five novels in the series, and the original plan at Showtime was for each season to cover one novel, but it’s unclear if future seasons are in the cards at Netflix.

How to watch Ripley

Ripley is a Netflix original, so you’ll need a subscription to watch it.

Is there a Ripley trailer?

Netflix released the first teaser trailer for Ripley in December of 2023, offering an early glimpse at the tone of the series, which is presented entirely in black-and-white. “You’re a very hard man to find. No address, phone, office,” Scott’s Ripley is told in the teaser, hinting at the character’s mysterious backstory and chameleon-like way of adopting different identities. You can watch the teaser below.

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