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'Ripley' star Dakota Fanning addresses 'challenging' but 'most fun' aspect of new Netflix series

"It's about someone's eyes or just a flicker, or a little moment where they betray themselves," Fanning said

Andrew Scott, Dakota Fanning and Johnny Flynn star in Oscar winner Steven Zaillian's Netflix series Ripley, a crime drama filled with suspense and surprises.

Where to watch Ripley: Netflix
Ripley release date: April 4
Cast: Andrew Scott, Dakota Fanning, Johnny Flynn, Maurizio Lombardi, Eliot Sumner, Margherita Buy, Bokeem Woodbine, Kenneth Lonergan, Ann Cusack, John Malkovich
Director: Steven Zaillian
Number of episodes: 8

Andrew Scott in
Andrew Scott in "Ripley" (Netflix)

What is 'Ripley' about?

If you think Ripley is going to be a repeat of the film The Talented Mr Ripley, that's absolutely not the case: It's a unique and masterful take on the Patricia Highsmith novel.

Set in the 1960s, we first meet Tom Ripley (Scott) as a low-level fraudster trying to stay afloat with a fake collection agency scam.

Then he's hired by a wealthy man in New York to go to Atrani, Italy to convince his son, Dickie Greenleaf (Flynn), to return home to the U.S., thinking Dickie and Tom are friends. In reality, Dickie is just a friend of a friend to Tom.

When Tom arrives in Italy, Dickie has no interest in leaving, but Tom quickly integrates himself into Dickie's life. The first person suspicious about Tom's intentions is Dickie's girlfriend Marge Sherwood (Fanning), who's writing a travel book. But as Tom gets closer to Dickie, he doesn't just aspire to live Dickie's life of luxury, he wants to be him, leading to more sophisticated deception and even murder.

Watch: Netflix 'Ripley' star Dakota Fanning on filming 'frenemy' scenes with Andrew Scott

'I was constantly just so excited by what he was doing'

Some of the greatest moments in Ripley are definitely when we get to see Tom and Marge together, with Marge trying to navigate just how much to push Tom to catch him in a lie, or get more information about his intentions befriending Dickie, but not go too far to expose how skeptical she really is.

"Andrew and I had so much fun with that," Fanning told Yahoo Canada. "I felt so lucky to be able to play one of the characters that has Tom's number a little bit and to be able to confront him, and have those kind of frenemy scenes together."

"There would be times where cut would be called and Andrew and I would just look at each other with this look of just, oh my god we hate each other so much. It's so amazing, we just loved it. And I think it's always helpful when you get along with the person that you're working with, and have a natural affection and chemistry with each other. In my experience, that's preferable and couldn't be more the case with Andrew. He's just one of the most incredible people I've ever met and so brilliant. And working with him every day, I was constantly just so excited by what he was doing and thrilled that I was getting to see it first."

Dakota Fanning as Marge Sherwood in Ripley (Stefano Cristiano Montesi/Netflix)
Dakota Fanning as Marge Sherwood in Ripley (Stefano Cristiano Montesi/Netflix)

'It just leaves so much open to my interpretation'

What's particularly interesting about this story is that it's crafted from Tom's perspective. So each character we meet, we're seeing Tom's interpretation of those people. That was a "challenging" element for Fanning to navigate.

"The scripts are even written from Tom's perspective, so Marge is described the way Tom is seeing her, not necessarily how she actually is," Fanning said. "I was like, woah that's such a challenge, because it just leaves so much open to my interpretation, and then you get panicked, you're like, 'Oh my god, well I hope what I think is what Steve thinks, and I hope that my instincts are true.'"

"But it was actually really incredible to be able to play ... Have my reality as Marge be completely different than Tom's reality of Marge, or of anything, and have those things crash into each other. It was actually the most fun thing ever. It sort of became about modulating when Marge is suspicious and what she knows, and when she sees Tom for who he really is, and when she's herself kind of fooled by him, and figuring out those things."

Fanning highlighted that a core element of Ripley is the intention of what's being said, not what's actually being said.

"You can say 'I love you' to someone like you hate them, and that's sort of how I describe a lot of the scenes and the dialogue within the scenes in the series," Fanning said.

"As an actor and as a viewer and fan of things, that's what I love to see, because I think that's really when you're doing something and trying to fulfill a naturalistic thing, where you're playing just a person. It's about someone's eyes or just a flicker, or a little moment where they betray themselves, ... and this was kind of filled with moments like that. And as an actor, I love doing that. And I love watching that. And so I felt so excited to be a part of something where that was really valued and wanted."