Sarah Polley adapting Margaret Atwood crime novel for Netflix series

The Canadian actor turned writer and director will adapt Atwood’s 1996 book, Alias Grace, into a miniseries, with American Psycho’s Mary Harron directing

Netflix has teamed with Sarah Polley (director of Away From Her) and Mary Harron (American Psycho) for a new true-crime series, based on a novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood, about convicted murderer Grace Marks. Polley, who last directed the acclaimed documentary Stories We Tell, will write and produce the six-hour miniseries, with Harron on board as director.

Alias Grace, bearing the same title as Atwood’s 1996 book, will tell the story of Grace Marks, a young Irish immigrant and domestic servant in upper Canada, who along with stable hand James McDermott, was convicted of the brutal murders of their employer and his housekeeper. Marks was eventually exonerated after 30 years, while McDermott was hanged for the crimes.

Much of the novel takes place in 1859, when Marks was incarcerated in a women’s penitentiary. At the heart of the book are the stories Marks tells to a young doctor, Simon Jordan, a fictional character who researches the case and falls in love with Marks. He’ll also play a prominent role in the Netflix adaptation, reports the Hollywood Reporter.

In a statement, Polley called Grace Marks, “as captured by Margaret Atwood”, “the most complex, riveting character I have ever read”.

Alias Grace marks Atwood’s latest book-to-TV adaptation following The Handmaid’s Tale, which was picked up straight to series at Hulu with Top of Lake’s Elisabeth Moss attached to star. It debuts in 2017.

True-crime series are currently all the rage: FX’s American Crime Story: The People v OJ Simpson is considered a key player at this year’s Emmys, while Netflix’s Making a Murderer and HBO’s The Jinx proved extremely popular. The podcast Serial is also being turned into a TV show.

No premiere date has been announced for Alias Grace, a co-production between Netflix, Halfire Entertainment and Canadian broadcaster CBC. The cast has also yet to be revealed.


Nigel M Smith

The GuardianTramp

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