Ben Wheatley’s new version of Rebecca is far from the first screen adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s classic novel. Apart from the iconic Alfred Hitchock film from 1940, there have also been TV versions for both the BBC and ITV.
But according to star Kristin Scott Thomas, who plays the sinister housekeeper Mrs Danvers, the new version actually bears a closer resemblance to the original novel in terms of its mood and tone.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com and other outlets, Scott Thomas said, “In Daphne du Maurier’s novels you would definitely find negative forces. She likes mysterious witches and she has a sort of magical quality to a lot of her writing – lots of ghosts, lots of magic, that sort of thing.
“And I think that that is very present in Ben Wheatley’s film and, in a way, it’s more like the atmosphere in Daphne DuMaurier’s novel.”
Scott Thomas was always desperate to play the character – considered one of literature’s iconic villains – and she says she was even more determined having read Jane Goldman’s script and spoken with Wheatley about his vision.
And despite noting some tonal similarities, Scott Thomas says there are some departments in which the film differs greatly from other adaptations, including the nature of her own character.
“The Mrs Danvers character is quite removed from the Mrs Danvers character in the very famous film that everybody keeps referring to and it’s quite far away from the character in Daphne du Maurier’s novel,” she explained.
“[In the novel she’s] described as being a little mouse and being very tiny and with beady eyes and she’s sort of mysterious and dark and she’s like a little old witch really, and we decided to make that into a modern-day kind of witch, a witch that people would be able to recognise today which is a bit different.”
One of the biggest changes made to Mrs Danvers doesn’t relate specifically to her nature but rather to her narrative, with the character’s arc ending in rather a different manner in the film than in the novel.
We won’t spoil the altered ending here, but Scott Thomas claimed that it was done to give the film a more “satisfying crunch.”
“We actually filmed that part later,” she said. “That was a sort of something that we came across later, but I felt that it was important to have a conclusion to Mrs Danvers.
“Because this isn’t a novel, it’s a film, and we need some kind of satisfying crunch at the end.”
Rebecca streams on Netflix from Wednesday 21st October. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our guide to the best TV series on Netflix and best movies on Netflix, visit our TV Guide, or find out about upcoming new TV shows 2020.