Netflix’s miniseries adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace has tapped Anna Paquin for a major role. Atwood’s 1996 historical fiction novel is based on a pair of notorious real-life murders in 19th century Canada. Paquin will play one half of that murdered couple.
Variety reports that Paquin has joined Alias Grace as in the role of Nancy Montgomery. In 1843, Montgomery worked as a housekeeper for a man named Thomas Kinnear. She was also his lover. She found a friend in Grace Marks, an Irish immigrant hired on as a servant in the household. Unfortunately, the relationship soured as Nancy became jealous of Kinnear’s connection with Grace. She fired the young girl…and, shortly thereafter, both Kinnear and Grace were brutally murdered. Unsurprisingly, Grace became a prime suspect, along with a stable hand named James McDermott. Both were convicted, with Marks receiving a life sentence and McDermott the business end of a hangman’s noose.
Paquin will star opposite Sarah Gadon as Grace. Gadon most recently appeared in another high-profile streaming miniseries: Hulu’s Stephen King adaptation 11.22.63. Actress/writer Sarah Polley adapted the six-hour Alias Grace miniseries from Atwood’s novel, and Mary Harron (American Psycho) is helming the project. The cast also includes Chuck‘s Zachary Levi, but his role has yet to be confirmed.
Polley told Variety, “Anna is an incredibly versatile performer who always makes complex, unpredictable and fascinating choices in her work. It’s always a marvel to watch her and we’re thrilled to have her join the cast.”
While Netflix’s catalog of original content is extensive, they haven’t delved into the miniseries format much yet. There are several such projects in the works, however. In addition to Alias Grace, their Marvel shows are set to culminate with The Defenders in 2017. They also have an animated Watership Down miniseries in the works.
Alias Grace will premiere on the CBC in Canada and Netflix globally.