True Detective director will take on 19th century NYC serial-killer thriller The Alienist

Cary Fukunaga
Cary Fukunaga
True Detective director Cary Fukunaga received a lot of attention for his cerebral exploration of the psychology behind killers and the people charged with bringing them to justice. Following his engrossing depiction of the minds behind the madness in the acclaimed serious, it only makes sense that the Emmy-winning auteur would be interested in a story like The Alienist, Caleb Carr’s 1994 novel about a serial killer in late-19th century Manhattan.

Deadline reports that Fukunaga will direct an “event series” (similar to the format of True Detective) based on Carr’s novel, which unfolded from the perspective of journalist John Moore as he teamed up with Dr. Laszlo Kreizler and then-NYC police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt to solve a series of gruesome murders targeting members of the city’s immigrant community. The story gets its other-worldly title from the term for doctors who studied mental illness during that period.

In the novel, the group must contend not only with the murderer, but also the politics and philosophies of the time, which looked down on the use of emerging practices like finger-printing and psychological profiling.

Fukunaga’s adaptation of The Alienist will see him collaborating once again with Anonymous Content, the production team behind True Detective and his upcoming film Beasts of No Nation, about child soldiers in Africa starring Idris Elba.  Along with directing The Alienist, Fukunaga will also executive produce the series with Eric Roth (Forrest Gump). The script will be penned by Hossein Amini (Drive).

“The multi-episodic format will enable us to do justice to the complexity of Caleb Carr’s storytelling and his vivid and detailed portrait of late 19th century New York in all its splendor and grittiness,” said Anonymous Content’s Steve Golin and Rosalie Swedlin in a statement accompanying the announcement.

Fukunaga is currently developing a new feature-film adaptation of Stephen King’s IT, told over the course of two movies. There’s currently no timetable for his adaptation of The Alienist.

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