Interview by Paul Salfen
A modern take on David Cronenberg’s 1988 classic film, Dead Ringers is a limited series starring Rachel Weisz playing the double-lead role of Elliot and Beverly Mantle, twins who share everything: drugs, lovers, and an unapologetic desire to do whatever it takes – including pushing the boundaries on medical ethics—in an effort to challenge antiquated practices and bring women’s healthcare to the forefront.
How a Cronenberg Classic Was Reimagined for Television
Rachel Weisz says she was instantly intrigued when she first saw David Cronenberg’s 1988 film Dead Ringers as a teenager.The film lingered with Weisz in the decades that followed, during which time she also grew fascinated with wanting to tell a story for the screen centered on sisters. She considered adapting various short stories and novels over the years, but “none of them seemed right.”Then it dawned on her: What if she re-imagined Dead Ringers as a story about female twin OB-GYNS?
In October 2017 Weisz discussed her idea with producer Sue Naegle, a veteran development executive on such groundbreaking series as Six Feet Under, Girls and Game of Thrones who was then serving as Chief Content Officer at Annapurna Pictures in Los Angeles.
“I love Rachel’s work as an actor and quickly found her to be one of the most talented producers I’ve ever worked with,” says Naegle. “I was grateful that she wanted to be as involved as she was, especially in identifying Alice Birch as the ideal person to write the series.”
An award-winning playwright, screenwriter and writer on such lauded shows as HBO’s Succession and Hulu’s Normal People, the U.K.-based Birch was Weisz’s first choice to reimagine Dead Ringers as a female-centered limited series. “I’d seen her  film, Lady MacBeth, which is a spectacular piece of writing,” says Weisz. “I’d also read her plays Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again and Anatomy of a Suicide. I could sense she was extremely bold and inventive.”
Birch, who at that point had never seen Cronenberg’s original Dead Ringers, was thrilled about collaborating with Weisz as an actor and EP, and at the prospect of reinventing this IP. “And when I finally did see the film, I watched it five times in a row,” laughs Birch. “It’s such an intriguing world. How they pulled off the ‘twinning’ effects back then – it’s amazing. You never question it. All of it felt like a brilliant gauntlet: How do we pull six hours of storytelling out of that? Then that quickly became: How do we keep it to six hours?”
Directors: Sean Durkin (101,102, 106), Karena Evans (103), Lauren Wolkstein (104, 106), Karyn Kusama (105)
Writers: Alice Birch (101, 106), Ming Peiffer (102), Rachel De-Lahay (103), Susan Soon He Stanton (105), Miriam Battye (104)
Producers: Dead Ringers is co-produced by Amazon Studios and Annapurna Television. Alice Birch, who is the series showrunner, serves as an executive producer alongside Rachel Weisz for Astral Projection, Stacy O’Neil, Sue Naegle, and Sean Durkin. Ali Krug is the executive producer for Annapurna Television. Erica Kay, Anne Carey, and Polly Stokes also serve as executive producers. James G. Robinson, David Robinson, and Barbara Wall executive produced for Morgan Creek.