The first trailer for the latest adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s classic novel recently dropped, and it’s got us wanting more. Ben Wheatley directs the Netflix film that centers on a newlywed couple. Lily James plays the freshly minted Mrs. de Winter, who after a whirlwind romance in Monte Carlo finds herself on the English coast at the family estate of her new husband. Armie Hammer portrays said spouse, Maxim de Winter, whose late wife Rebecca threatens the happiness of his new bride. That is, the current Mrs. de Winter feels the haunting shadow of her predecessor, reinforced by the estate’s foreboding housekeeper Mrs. Danvers (Kristin Scott Thomas). Wheatley describes the film primarily as a love story, although it’s also part thriller, part drama, part mystery, and part ghost story. Keep reading for a peek into the cast members who will bring this adaption of Rebecca to life and for reasons why their respective bodies of work make them the perfect choices for the upcoming period film.
Laurence Olivier garnered a nomination for best actor in a leading role for his performance as Maxim de Winter in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 Oscar-winning adaptation of Rebecca, so the pressure’s on for Hammer’s take on the classic character. He’s seemingly the right actor for the job, though, with a number of period credits to his name, such as Anthony Maras’ 2018 historical drama Hotel Mumbai and the Felicity Jones-starring biographical drama On the Basis of Sex. Hammer is also no stranger to the thriller genre, having appeared opposite Amy Adams in Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals. And amongst other romance drama credits, his performance as Oliver in Luca Guadagnino’s critically acclaimed Call Me by Your Name surely evidences his ability within that genre.
Like Hammer, James is following in some big footsteps — Joan Fontaine played Mrs. de Winter in Hitchcock’s version of Rebecca, and she also received an Oscar nomination for her performance. James seems up for the challenge, though, with a slew of credits that speak to her ability with projects featuring strong love stories. Take her breakout role as the titular character in Disney’s 2015 live-action adaptation of Cinderella for example. Or Downton Abbey fans may recognize her as Lady Rose MacClare. Another period project on James’ resume is Netflix’s The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which, not surprisingly, included a romantic plotline for her character. And we’d be remiss to not mention amongst James’ romance credits her roles as young Donna in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and Ellie in last year’s Himesh Patel-starring Yesterday. As for a project that speaks to her work within more intense drama features, look no further than her performance opposite Ansel Elgort in Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver.
Kristin Scott Thomas
Judith Anderson played Mrs. Danvers in Hitchcock’s Rebecca and also got an Oscar nod for her performance. We’re eager to see Scott Thomas’ take on the character, especially with her status as a fellow Oscar-nominated actor. The thespian received the nod for her well-known performance opposite Ralph Fiennes in The English Patient. Her long-standing body of work includes a number of other period dramas, such as Darkest Hour, Suite Française, and Bel Ami. Scott Thomas’ work in Alain Corneau’s Love Crime speaks to her prowess within the mystery genre, and her performance as Sarah Davies in Mission: Impossible demonstrates that she’s no stranger to thrillers.
Based on the impressive acting résumés of Hammer, James, and Scott Thomas, it is safe to say that the upcoming feature in which they’ll star is one to anticipate. It is currently slated for an October 21 release on Netflix, and you can keep an eye out for other name actors when it does. Tom Goodman-Hill, Keeley Hawes, Sam Riley, and Ann Dowd are all a part of the talented cast of this most recent adaptation of Rebecca. Hitchcock’s version garnered an impressive 11 Oscar nominations and even took home the Academy Award for Best Picture that year. It remains to be seen how Wheatley’s take on the classic novel will fare with critics, but in the meantime, you can look forward to the star-studded performances it will include.