A year after he directed an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn, Alfred Hitchcock would direct his adaptation of an even more memorable du Maurier novel, Rebecca His 1940 film would be the only Hitchcock film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.  It is a Hollywood classic, a perfect Gothic romance masterpiece starring Joan Fontaine as the mousey Cinderella-esque Mrs. de Winter, opposite Laurence Olivier as the controlling but dashing Maxim de Winter.  There’s a dark secret at Maxim’s sprawling estate called Manderley.  The great future dame Judith Anderson played Mrs. Danvers, creating one of those screen villains in that club of scary, loathsome manipulators that includes The Wicked Witch of the West, Maleficent, Dolores Umbridge, Mrs. Emerson, and Nurse Ratched.  Now 80 years later, relatively unknown director Ben Wheatley (Doctor Who, Free Fire) is bringing his own adaptation to Netflix next month.  So who is being cast in the key roles this time?

First up, Lily James steps into Joan Fontaine’s shoes to play the young woman who becomes Mrs. de Winter.  James continues to dazzle in each role she takes on, from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to Baby Driver to Darkest Hour and Mamma Mia!, not to mention the popular series Downton Abbey (and she was even great as the lead in the lesser known The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society).  The only question is whether the exuberant actress can pull off the very bland and plain Mrs. de Winter.

Stepping into the Olivier role is the tall and strident leading man Armie Hammer.  Probably Hammer’s best performance was as Illya Kuryakin opposite Henry Cavill in 2015’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E., but he’s also known for The Social Network, Call Me By Your Name, and he had the title role in 2013’s The Lone Ranger.

For Dame Judith Anderson’s villainess, look for Kristin Scott Thomas, known for her roles in Mission: Impossible, The English Patient, Tomb Raider, and Gosford Park.  Other familiar faces to watch for include Keeley Hawes (Ashes to Ashes, The Bank Job), Tom Goodman-Hill (Humans, Mr. Selfridge), Bill Paterson (Shetland, Doctor Who), Sam Riley (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Maleficent), and Ann Dowd (Quarry, The X-Files).

Here’s the trailer for Rebecca:

Look for Rebecca premiering exclusively on Netflix October 21, 2020.

C.J. Bunce / Editor / borg