Andrew Scott on His Selective Approach to Playing Darker Roles Like ‘Ripley’: “Don’t Want to Do It Too Much”

Andrew Scott continues to add to his wide-ranging acting résumé with Ripley, taking on famed con man Tom Ripley as he is hired to live a life of deceit, fraud and murder.

After playing a Bond villain in 2015’s Spectre, Scott shared that playing such an evil role was “not a territory that I feel like I would want to go over again. Now I know who I am a little bit more, I feel like the work that I’m just interested in doing is more in the gray areas.” But, he told The Hollywood Reporter at the show’s Los Angeles premiere on Wednesday, he does not see Tom Ripley as a villainous character.

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“I see him absolutely as an antihero, but he’s the protagonist. He’s not the antagonist, so we’re seeing it through his eyes, that’s the whole part of it,” Scott explained. “It’s certainly dark … it’s a definite thing after you play somebody dark like that who has a completely different ideology to you, it’s different, you spend a lot of time in a dark place and don’t want to do it too much, but it was a great honor to play this character because he’s so multifaceted.”

The eight-episode Netflix series, shot entirely in black and white, is adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s 1955 novel The Talented Mr. Ripley by creator Steven Zaillian, and also stars Dakota Fanning and Johnny Flynn.

Scott said he was particularly drawn to “the opportunity to spend this amount of time with this character, who appears in about 90-plus percent of the scenes. It was a huge amount of acting, but I thought it was really witty, and I thought it was just economically, beautifully and sort of scintillatingly written and seemed to have a real respect for the book without having too much reverence for it, made it very visual. I think the pacing and the look of the story is genuinely singular and unique.”

Zaillian — who said he was not influenced by any of the story’s past adaptations, including the 1999 hit starring Matt Damon, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow — landed on Scott as his Ripley because “I love the look of Andrew. Andrew has an incredible face, and he’s complicated in the way I felt the character was. I’d seen him as Moriarty [in Sherlock], I’d seen him as the priest in Fleabag, and I thought just between those two roles that’s a big range. And we’ve got, I think, both ends of that and other things in between.”

Fanning — who plays Paltrow’s role of Marge and is suspicious of Tom and his friendship with Dickie (portrayed by Flynn) from the beginning — said she and Scott “loved getting to do our scenes where we’re kind of going at each other with our eyes. We loved doing that, and I think we were able to do that very well because we get along in real life so well. Somebody said we had great anti-chemistry onscreen together, and I was like, ‘That’s a good description.'”

She added that she also didn’t reach out to Paltrow throughout the process “because I felt like we were doing such a different thing.” Scott took the same approach with Damon, noting he has yet to meet the actor, “who I’m absolutely a massive fan of.”

Ripley is now streaming on Netflix.

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