Fleabag’s Andrew Scott is back to seduce us as The Talented Mr. Ripley

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Christobel Hastings
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Fleabag’s “Hot Priest” Andrew Scott is making a TV comeback in a new adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley. Only this time around, he’s a little less saintly. 

He set hearts a-flutter as the smouldering “Hot Priest” in Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s critically-acclaimed comedy Fleabag, made viewers sweat with his turn as a dangerous taxi driver in Black Mirror, and raised our hackles as the arch-nemesis Moriarty in Sherlock. Now, Andrew Scott is getting the prime television time he deserves with a leading role of his own. Only this time around, the heartthrob is a little less saintly. 

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the BAFTA-winning Irish actor is set to take the starring role in Ripley, a new TV adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s bestselling crime novels.

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Scott will star as the titular character Tom Ripley, the handsome, murderous psychopath of Highsmith’s most famous work The Talented Mr. Ripley, in an eight-episode project for Showtime. The new TV adaptation, which has already received a straight-to-series order from the network, will be written and directed by Steven Zaillian, best known for his work on Schindler’s List, Mission: Impossible, Gangs of New York and Red Sparrow.

“We are so thrilled to have the supremely talented filmmaker, Steve Zaillian, adapt the singular saga of Tom Ripley from Patricia Highsmith’s novels as an ongoing series for Showtime,” said Showtime President of Entertainment Gary Levine.

“With Andrew Scott, whose charisma knows no bounds, inhabiting the iconic lead role, we feel confident that this will be a special one.”

Andrew Scott as the unholy love interest in Fleabag.

The Ripley novels, written between 1955 and 1991, are already much-loved stories in the literary canon. The series follows the story of Tom Ripley, “a grifter” living in 1960s New York, who is hired by a wealthy man to travel to Italy and convince his vagabond son to return home. When he finds him, he embarks upon a new life with a new identity, albeit one marked by a complex web of deceit, fraud and murder.

The first novel, The Talented Mr. Ripley, was made into a hit 1999 film starring Matt Damon, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow, while the lead character has been portrayed in other adaptations by actors like Alain Delon (Purple Noon), Dennis Hopper (The American Friend).

Matt Damon as Tom Ripley in the 1999 thriller The Talented Mr. Ripley

Earlier in the month, Scott pointed out the problem with labelling members of the LGBTQ+ community “openly gay”, and explained that being straight wasn’t a prerequisite for creating a believable character on screen.

“Sexuality isn’t something you can cultivate, particularly,” he remarked. “It isn’t a talent… You believe the relationship, that’s my job.”

In an interview with the Huffington Post, Scott elaborated on the misconception that LGBTQ+ actors can’t convincingly portray a romantic heterosexual relationship.

“It’s not remotely difficult for me to have chemistry with Phoebe Waller-Bridge and that goes for a lot of women I’ve played opposite,” he said. “It’s ludicrous and almost insulting to say otherwise. The most important thing is that you have a real chemistry with the person you’re playing opposite.”

“I think it’s dangerous territory to go down sometimes to think that we’re only allowed to play our own – not just our own sexuality, but our own nationality or identity – that we’re only allowed to… represent things that are within our experience,” he added.

As anyone who’s watched Scott smoulder as the “Hot Priest” or marvelled at his villainous performance as Moriarty will attest, Scott can pull off a range of complex characters with flair. No doubt his interpretation of Tom Ripley will too become the object of our affections. 

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Images: Getty, Paramount Pictures