After nailing a fourth season of his gritty, Idris Elba-powered detective series Luther, Neil Cross has been tapped to adapt Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Talented Mr. Ripley (and the other books in that series, which spans five novels) for the small screen.
Endemol Shine Studios, Entertainment 360, and Diogenes are behind the show, which had been hunting for a writer ever since the studios struck a deal with the Highsmith estate to build a TV property around the Tom Ripley character last year. Cross is a great get for the project; though his ventures outside of Luther, including NBC’s mediocre pirate show Crossbones, haven’t been nearly as well-received, the guy knows how to craft strong male protagonists, and Ripley certainly fits the bill.
Highsmith’s 1950s-set novels all revolved around Ripley, a con artist and serial killer whose lack of morality and personal greed often lead him to commit heinous acts. The character was played on the big screen by Matt Damon in The Talented Mr. Ripley.
No word yet on whether the studios have an actor or network in mind (this feels like the sort of project Netflix might jump at), but Ripley fits right into the current TV trend of dapper antiheroes.
There are five books in total – The Talented Mr. Ripley, Ripley Underground, Ripley’s Game, The Boy Who Followed Ripley, and Ripley Underwater – so Cross has no shortage of material to draw upon, but he’s so adept at crafting his own twisted tales of crime and justice that it will be most interesting to see not where he adapts Highsmith’s books but where he departs from them.