“Ripley” will mark the multi-hyphenate Zaillian’s return to television after creating HBO’s award-winning miniseries “The Night Of.” He is currently on the Italian island of Capri, where he is being honored by the Capri Hollywood International Film Festival as the author of the screenplay of Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” for which Zaillian is in the running for a Golden Globe.
Zaillian told Variety that he and his team are also in Italy to scout locations for “Ripley” in Capri and on the nearby island of Ischia, as well as on the Amalfi Coast and in Rome and Palermo. “The bulk of the show will be shot in Italy,” Zaillian said, noting that “there are several parts for Italian talents.”
After Italy, the show’s shoot will move to New York. The Italian line producer of the “Ripley” series is Enzo Sisti, a veteran whose credits include, most recently, Netflix’s “The Two Popes” and the Italy portion of the new James Bond pic, “No Time to Die.”
Zaillian confirmed that the “Ripley” series will use the five Tom Ripley novels written by Patricia Highsmith: “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” “Ripley Under Ground,” “Ripley’s Game,” “The Boy Who Followed Ripley” and “Ripley Underwater.” The first season is based on the first book. “The hope is that each [of the] subsequent four books will also each be an eight-episode season in the series,” he said.
The character of Tom Ripley in the show’s first season has been described by Showtime as that of a grifter scraping by in early 1960s New York, who is hired by a wealthy man to travel to Italy to try to convince his vagabond son to return home. Ripley’s acceptance of the job is the first step into a complex life of deceit, fraud and murder.
Highsmith’s Ripley novels have been adapted for the big screen several times but less frequently for U.S. television. The character was most famously portrayed by Matt Damon in the 1999 thriller “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” which was nominated for five Academy Awards, and then by John Malkovich in 2002’s “Ripley’s Game,” directed by Italy’s Liliana Cavani.
“Ripley” is being co-produced by Showtime and Endemol Shine North America in association with Entertainment 360 and Filmrights. Executive producers are Zaillian, Garrett Basch, Guymon Casady, Ben Forkner, Sharon Levy and Philipp Keel of Diogenes. Scott will serve as a producer.