Ripley: Netflix New Series of Patricia Highsmith’s Popular Novel, Starring Andrew Scott in the Famous Alain Delon Role (“Purple Noon”)

Andrew Scott has played several villains in his career, but in Netflix’s Ripley he has rejected comparisons with his BAFTA-winning turn as the evil Jim Moriarty in Sherlock.

Speaking on the BBC, the All of us Strangers star said he will use the eight-episode TV series version of Patricia Highsmith’s novel to convince the audience that Ripley is so much more than a con man.

“It does feel different to playing Moriarty,” he told the Today program. “As Moriarty I felt like I was playing a villain and for some reason I retreat against calling Ripley a villain. He’s an anti-hero and it’s up to me to make the audience know what it’s like to be Ripley, not to be a victim of Tom Ripley. We should empathize with him. He is the protagonist in this.”

Highsmith’s gift in her novel is to “make you root for him,” Scott added. And indeed, there are no simple heroes or villains, drawn in black and white, in Highsmith’s literary output.

I urge viewers to check out the superb 1960 version of Ripley in the French movie Plein Soleil (“Purple Noon”), featuring Alain Delon in  career-making performance.

Purple Noon

French theatrical release poster

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The psychological thriller, in which Ripley was famously played by Matt Damon in the 1999 movie, sees the eponymous character hired by a wealthy man to convince his wayward son to return home from Italy. But Ripley’s introduction to Dickie Greenleaf’s leisurely life abroad is the first step into a complex life of deceit, fraud and murder. The TV version stars Johnny Flynn as Greenleaf and Dakota Fanning as Marge Sherwood.

Scott, whose credits include Fleabag and Pride, said themes of class will come to the fore in the TV version.

“This is a man with enormous talent living in stress where his neighbors are rats,” he added.

“He is unseen and can do what he does in order to survive like so many people do and then he lands in this world where people are less talented than him and have no qualms in calling themselves artists. The message is, ‘If you dismiss certain factors of the community, something becomes rotten in state of Denmark.”

Ripley launches April 4.