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The Talented Cast of “Ripley”: Bringing Patricia Highsmith’s Iconic Character to Life



Netflix’s highly anticipated limited crime series “Ripley” has finally arrived, and with it, a talented ensemble of actors who bring the iconic character of Tom Ripley to life. Based on Patricia Highsmith’s 1955 novel “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” the eight-episode series follows the story of a con artist in 1960s New York City who is hired to travel to Italy and convince a wealthy businessman’s son, Dickie Greenleaf, to return home.

Directed, written, and executive produced by acclaimed filmmaker Steve Zallian, “Ripley” is a dark, sinister exploration of identity, deceit, and the lengths one man will go to in order to achieve his twisted aspirations. At the heart of this captivating narrative is a remarkable cast, each member delivering a standout performance that delves deep into the complexities of Highsmith’s renowned characters.

Andrew Scott as the Enigmatic Tom Ripley

Undoubtedly, the most crucial role in “Ripley” belongs to Andrew Scott, who takes on the titular character. Known for his exceptional versatility and depth as an actor, Scott was the perfect choice to embody the multifaceted Tom Ripley.

Zallian, the director, praised Scott’s ability to capture the nuances of Ripley, describing him as a “petty criminal who feels he deserves better than his meager circumstances.” The director noted that Scott possesses the “range to play the many personas of Ripley,” a testament to the actor’s remarkable talent.

Throughout the series, Scott seamlessly transitions between Ripley’s various guises, from the struggling con artist to the confident, manipulative impersonator. His performance is a masterclass in subtlety, with Scott effortlessly conveying the character’s internal turmoil and the twisted motivations that drive his actions.

“What’s fascinating about Ripley is that he’s constantly changing, constantly reinventing himself,” Scott said in an interview with Netflix’s Tudum. “That’s what makes him such a compelling and complex character to play.”

Dakota Fanning as the Suspicious Marge Sherwood

Joining Scott in the ensemble is the talented Dakota Fanning, who portrays Marge Sherwood, Dickie Greenleaf’s girlfriend. Marge serves as a foil to Ripley, her suspicions about the con artist’s true intentions driving much of the series’ narrative tension.

Zallian revealed that he cast Fanning after being impressed by her performance in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood,” where she showcased her ability to deliver a nuanced, layered portrayal. In “Ripley,” Fanning brings the same level of depth to Marge, crafting a character who is equal parts naive and perceptive, torn between her love for Dickie and her growing unease about Ripley’s motives.

“Marge is a really interesting character because she’s sort of the moral compass of the story,” Fanning said in an interview. “She’s the one who senses that something is off with Ripley, and she’s determined to get to the bottom of it.”

Fanning’s performance is a standout, as she navigates the character’s emotional journey with a delicate balance of vulnerability and strength, ultimately becoming a formidable adversary to Ripley’s machinations.

Johnny Flynn as the Charismatic Dickie Greenleaf

As Dickie Greenleaf, the wealthy and self-entitled artist at the center of Ripley’s schemes, Johnny Flynn delivers a captivating performance that perfectly captures the character’s alluring yet flawed nature.

Zallian praised Flynn’s ability to embody Dickie’s “sweet naïveté beneath his outward confidence, along with that laconic ease people who don’t have to worry about money have.” The director’s assessment is spot-on, as Flynn seamlessly transitions between Dickie’s charming, carefree persona and the underlying insecurities that make him a prime target for Ripley’s manipulation.

Beyond his acting prowess, Flynn’s own background as a musician, with his band Johnny Flynn & the Sussex Wit, lends an additional layer of authenticity to his portrayal of the artistically inclined Dickie. The actor’s natural charisma and on-screen presence make him a perfect foil to Andrew Scott’s Ripley, their dynamic driving much of the series’ narrative.

Eliot Sumner as the Suspicious Freddie Miles

Rounding out the primary cast is Eliot Sumner, who takes on the role of Freddie Miles, Dickie’s rich and snobbish friend. Zallian noted that he chose Sumner for the part due to the actor’s “quiet, knowing, sophisticated” embodiment of the character.

As Freddie, Sumner delivers a standout performance, his subtle mannerisms and piercing gaze hinting at a deep-seated suspicion of Ripley’s true intentions. The character’s interactions with Ripley are filled with an underlying tension, as Freddie’s observant nature and distrust of the con artist create a formidable obstacle for the protagonist.

Sumner’s own background as a singer-songwriter, the child of music legends Sting and Trudie Styler, lends an additional layer of intrigue to their portrayal of Freddie. The actor’s nuanced performance is a testament to their versatility, seamlessly transitioning from their musical pursuits to delivering a captivating on-screen presence.

Maurizio Lombardi as the Dogged Inspector Ravini

In the role of Inspector Ravini, the Italian homicide detective tasked with unraveling the mysteries surrounding Ripley’s actions, Maurizio Lombardi delivers a performance that is both understated and impactful.

Lombardi spoke about the dynamic between his character and Andrew Scott’s Ripley, describing it as a “chess play” where the “movement is the lines of the script.” This dynamic is evident in their on-screen interactions, as Lombardi’s Ravini engages in a battle of wits with Ripley, their cat-and-mouse game driving much of the series’ suspenseful narrative.

The Italian actor’s international breakout role in “The Young Pope” and its sequel “The New Pope” has prepared him well for this complex, multilayered character. Lombardi’s portrayal of Ravini is a testament to his versatility, as he seamlessly navigates the character’s dogged determination and nuanced understanding of the human psyche.

Kenneth Lonergan as the Influential Mr. Greenleaf

Rounding out the impressive cast is acclaimed writer, director, and playwright Kenneth Lonergan, who takes on the role of Mr. Greenleaf, Dickie’s father and the man who hires Ripley to travel to Italy.

Lonergan’s extensive experience in the industry, including his Academy Award-winning screenplay for “Manchester by the Sea” and his acclaimed plays such as “This Is Our Youth” and “The Waverly Gallery,” lends an added layer of gravitas to his portrayal of Mr. Greenleaf.

As the influential patriarch who sets the events of the series in motion, Lonergan’s character serves as a pivotal figure in the unfolding drama. His interactions with Ripley and the other characters provide insight into the complex web of power, privilege, and family dynamics that underpin the narrative.

Zallian’s decision to cast Lonergan in this role is a testament to the director’s keen eye for talent and his commitment to assembling a cast that will elevate the material. Lonergan’s nuanced performance adds depth and complexity to the series, further reinforcing the exceptional quality of the ensemble.

A Masterful Ensemble Elevating a Captivating Narrative

The cast of “Ripley” is a testament to the care and attention that Zallian and the production team have invested in bringing Patricia Highsmith’s iconic characters to life. From Andrew Scott’s mesmerizing portrayal of the titular con artist to the supporting players who each bring their own unique flair to the series, the ensemble is a masterclass in acting.

The chemistry between the actors, their ability to navigate the complexities of their characters, and the depth they bring to the narrative all contribute to the series’ success. Each performance is a standout in its own right, with the cast seamlessly weaving together to create a cohesive and captivating viewing experience.

As audiences delve into the dark and twisted world of “Ripley,” they will undoubtedly be left in awe of the talented ensemble that brings this story to life. From the nuanced and multilayered protagonists to the supporting players who add depth and intrigue, the cast of “Ripley” is a true testament to the art of acting and the power of storytelling.

In the end, the success of “Ripley” lies not only in the captivating narrative and Zallian’s deft direction but also in the exceptional performances of the ensemble cast. Their collective efforts have elevated the series to new heights, ensuring that Patricia Highsmith’s timeless tale of identity, deceit, and the human condition resonates with audiences in a profound and unforgettable way.

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