Margaret Atwood’s 1996 award-winning novel Alias Grace is being adapted into a six-hour miniseries on Netflix. Actress and filmmaker Sarah Polley adapted the book and will be producing the miniseries which will start shooting in August in Ontario. American Psycho director Mary Harron and Noreen Halpern are also executive producing, with D.J. Carson involved as a producer.
“Sarah Polley has done a brilliant adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s classic novel, which combines the richness of period drama with the tension and mystery of a modern day ‘Serial’,” said Harron. “It is an honour to be chosen to take this captivating story to the screen and to give new audiences the thrill of watching it unfold.”
“I first read Alias Grace when I was 17 years old and throughout the last 20 years I have read it over and over, trying to get to the bottom of it,” said Polley. “Grace Marks, as captured by Margaret Atwood, is the most complex, riveting character I have ever read. I’m thrilled that Mary Harron has taken the project on. I know that her ability to create suspense, tension, and delve into the dark, unknowable aspects of her characters will bring this piece alive. I can’t wait for us to bring the many versions of Grace’s gripping story, and the questions they raise, to television audiences.”
“We’re beyond thrilled to collaborate with this amazingly talented team of Canadian women to bring Sarah Polley’s stunning script to Canadian audiences,” said Sally Catto, General Manager, Programming, CBC Television. “This important work tells the story of a complex woman, and I can’t imagine a more exceptional team to bring Margaret Atwood’s novel to the screen.”
The Plot: The story of Alias Grace follows Grace Marks, a poor, 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, Thomas Kinnear, and his housekeeper, Nancy Montgomery, in 1843. James was hanged while Grace was sentenced to life imprisonment. Grace became one of the most enigmatic and notorious women of 1840s Canada for her supposed role in the sensational double murder, and was eventually exonerated after 30 years in jail. Her conviction was controversial, and sparked much debate about whether Grace was actually involved in the murder, or merely an unwitting accessory.
Both the screen adaptation and the Margaret Atwood novel on which the miniseries is based, introduce a fictional young doctor named Simon Jordan who researches the case and begins to fall in love with Grace. He soon becomes obsessed with her as he seeks to reconcile his perception of the mild-mannered woman he sees with the savage murder of which she has been convicted.