Netflix is teaming with Toronto-based production company Halfire Entertainment and Canadian broadcaster CBC on “Alias Grace,” a six-hour miniseries inspired by the true story of convicted murderer Grace Marks, based on the award-winning novel by Margaret Atwood.
“Alias Grace” is scheduled to begin principal photography in Ontario in August with Mary Harron (“American Psycho,” “I Shot Andy Warhol”) directing from a script by Canadian actress/filmmaker Sarah Polley (“John Adams,” “Dawn of the Dead”). It will be broadcast in Canada on CBC and stream globally on Netflix. Premiere date and casting have not been announced.
Published in 1996, “Alias Grace” was awarded the Giller Prize and shortlisted for the Booker Prize. It tells the story of Grace Marks was 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’s conviction was controversial and, after spending 30 years in prison, she was finally exonerated.
Both the novel and the miniseries adaptation introduce a fictional young doctor named Simon Jordan, who looks into the case as part of his research on criminal behavior and winds up becoming obsessed with Grace.
“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, who received an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for her 2006 directorial effort “Away from Her,” based on the Alice Munro short story “The Bear Came Over the Mountain.”
Polley will executive produce “Alias Grace” with Harron and Halfire Entertainment’s Noreen Halpern. D.J. Carson (“Spotlight”) will co-produce.
Halfire previously produced the TV series “Working the Engels,” starring Andrea Martin, which aired on NBC in the U.S. and Shaw in Canada in 2014. In May, it began principal photography on the apocalyptic thriller “Aftermath” for Syfy and Canada’s Bell Media’s Space. It has offices in Toronto and Los Angeles.