Jake Gyllenhaal to star in A Suspense Novelist's Trail of Deceptions series for Zola director Janicza Bravo
Jake Gyllenhaal is set to star in a new TV dramatization about the wild New Yorker article published in 2019 on Dan Mallory, author of suspense novel The Woman in the Window.
Mallory published The Woman in the Window under the pseudonym A.J. Finn in 2018. The New Yorker article, titled "A Suspense Novelist's Trail of Deceptions," accused Mallory of fabricating aspects of his life, including that he lied about earning a doctorate from the University of Oxford, suffering from a brain tumor, losing his mother to cancer, and losing his brother to suicide.
In a statement provided to The New Yorker at the time, Mallory said he suffered from "severe bipolar II disorder" that resulted in "crushing depressions, delusional thoughts, morbid obsessions, and memory problems." He apologized for taking advantage, or being "seen to have taken advantage of anyone else’s goodwill, however desperate the circumstances; that was never the goal." A psychiatrist who never met Mallory but spoke with the publication argued someone with bipolar II disorder "cannot attribute to that diagnosis delusions, amnesia, or 'chronic lying for secondary gain, or to get attention.'"
The planned series, for which Bravo is co-writing the pilot with Brian Savelson, focuses on an unreliable narrator who believes he has a brain tumor he really doesn't have and who mourns the death of family members who are not in fact dead, all while preying on the sympathies of others to get away with almost anything.
"What may have started out as my dog ate homework turns into my mother died of cancers, my brother took his life, and I have a double doctorate,” Bravo said in a statement to Deadline. “Our protagonist is white, male, and pathological. There is a void in him and he fills it by duping people. He’s a scammer. The series examines white identity and how we as an audience participate in making room for this behavior. Getting to partner with Annapurna and [production company] Nine Stories is a gift and I am most thrilled for what lies ahead."
After releasing directorial debut Lemon in 2017, Bravo helmed and co-wrote Zola, based on the viral Twitter thread that famously began, "You want to hear a story about how me and this bitch here fell out? It's kind of long, but it's full of suspense." The film stars Taylour Paige and Riley Keough.
Bravo and Gyllenhaal will executive produce this new series with Riva Marker, Megan Ellison, Sue Naegle, Sammy Scher, and Susan Goldberg.