After over a decade of gestation, an adaptation of highly acclaimed thriller novel The Devil in the White City is finally moving ahead, and Keanu Reeves is confirmed to star. Leonardo DiCaprio acquired the rights to the novel in 2010 and it was set to become a movie directed by Martin Scorsese. DiCaprio and Scorsese will now executive produce the television series for Hulu.
Todd Field, who has not directed anything since 2006’s brilliant Little Children, is returning this year with a Cate Blanchett movie called TAR. He will direct at least the first two episodes of The Devil in the White City. Sam Shaw, the showrunner of Hulu’s Castle Rock will be the showrunner. Castle Rock was based on characters from Stephen King books.
The Devil in the White City has two real-life historical characters at its centre, but creates a fictional story around them – Daniel Burnham, an architect of the 1893 World’s Fair, and HH Holmes, who is considered to be America’s first serial killer. It is not yet known for certain which role Reeves is taking, but it seems more likely to be Burnham.
Television often suits novel adaptations better than movies, which have to jettison a lot in order to fit the run-time. At almost 450 pages, The Devil in the White City is not a short novel either.
One of the most notorious aspects of the book is the inclusion of Holmes’ “murder castle” – a hotel that he built that was rumoured to contain hidden passages and rooms. He is said to have lured people who were visiting Chicago for the World’s Fair to the hotel so he could murder them. It is now believed that this was tabloid invention of the time.
Given Hulu’s history with Stephen King adaptations, as well as Sam Shaw’s involvement, fans will be hoping for a show that doesn’t shy away from the creepily terrifying aspects of the book.
While we wait for more news on The Devil in the White City, check out our guide to movies based on a true story.