Netflix has already dabbled in the “classic novel famously adapted by Alfred Hitchcock” genre once before with Ben Wheatley‘s new version of Rebecca last year, but the streaming giant isn’t done there. They’ve got a new adaptation of The 39 Steps in the works as a limited series, and Benedict Cumberbatch has signed on to star.
According to Deadline, the streamer made an aggressive bid to secure the project. The modern-day adaptation of John Buchan‘s 1915 novel will consist of at least six hour-long episodes, with Edward Berger set to direct the entire run. He and Cumberbatch previously collaborated on the Showtime series Patrick Melrose.
Cumberbatch will star as Richard Hannay, a man who becomes caught up in trying to stop an international spy ring from stealing military secrets. After being framed for murder, he’s forced to go on the run to clear his name while trying to unravel the wide-ranging conspiracy turning his life upside down.
Mark L. Smith (The Revenant) will write the series. As mentioned, the story was most famously brought to life in Hitchock’s 1935 classic, but it has since been adapted three separate times: twice as feature films in 1959 and 1978, and a 90-minute television film that aired on the BBC in 2008.
Hopefully this fares a little better than Wheatley’s Rebecca adaptation, which came and went without much of a bang. Cumberbatch is a pretty smart casting, as his throwback style wouldn’t be out of place in a classic Hitchcock thriller. We’ll see if Berger’s version remains similar to the 1935 film, the original novel, or whether the longer runtime will allow for his own spin on things.
This is just the latest project during a busy period for Cumberbatch. He’s got another Netflix project in the works in the form of The Power Of The Dog, while he just starred in The Mauritanian and The Courier. He also has biopic The Electrical Life Of Louis Wain due later this year.
But that’s not even close to being it. He also recently wrapped shooting on two MCU projects – Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness – and also recently signed on to Colin Trevorrow‘s World War II adventure War Magician. Perhaps he’s using those Doctor Strange powers to somehow find the time for all these projects.