‘Ripley’ Star Andrew Scott Breaks Down That 20-Minute Murder Sequence: ‘Not a Big Fan of Blood Myself’

Filming Dickie’s “exhausting” death over several days required “a lot of physical stamina,” the actor tells TheWrap

Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley in "Ripley" (Credit: Netflix)
Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley in "Ripley" (Credit: Netflix)

The following story contains frank discussion and spoilers for “Ripley” Episode 3, “III Sommerso.”

“Ripley” Episode 3, “III Sommerso,” is when things for brilliant conman Tom Ripley — and actor Andrew Scott — start kicking into high gear.

When Dickie (Johnny Flynn), Marge (Dakota Fanning) and employer/father Herbert Greenleaf (Kenneth Lonergan) all begin seeing through Tom’s ruse to elongate his stay in Italy, Dickie takes him north to Sanremo, an Italian Riviera coastal getaway just south of Nice, France.

Dickie’s plan to let Tom down gently and distance himself from his increasingly leech-like behavior is thwarted, however, when Tom continues to be one step ahead.

As is now a notorious betrayal from Patricia Highsmith’s 1955 psychological thriller and 1999’s “The Talented Mr. Ripley” novel adaptation, Tom takes Dickie out on a boat, secluded in the middle of the ocean. As Dickie begins laying the groundwork to effectively end their friendship, Tom violently murders him, bashing him upside the head with the boat’s wooden oar.

In Netflix’s “Ripley” from writer-director Steven Zaillian, the sequence devolves into a dialogue-less, nearly 20-minute stretch. Tom kills Dickie, disposes of the body, nearly drowns himself after falling out of the boat with the motor running, then burns the evidence and sinks the boat.

To hear Scott tell it, filming the events over the course of several days was essentially an action sequence — an “exhausting” one that “required a huge amount of physical and mental stamina” at that.

Plus, he’s “not a big fan of blood myself,” Scott told TheWrap.

“It’s just an extraordinary sequence — and it wasn’t a day [of filming]. It was a really long period of time,” Scott said. He added with a laugh, “It was an action sequence by somebody who you wouldn’t — neither the character or the actor — associate with being an action hero. But nevertheless, that’s exactly what it is.”

As far as letting the scene breathe with such drawn-out ferocity, Scott explained that it wasn’t just important to see Tom slay Dickie and work through the best next steps, but it was essential to see him flail and make mistakes — one in particular that nearly leads to his own drowning.

Until that point, Tom had always been one step ahead. To watch him fail on his mission after getting found out by the Greenleafs, then to nearly blow his chances of getting away with murder, leaves viewers wondering if they can really trust that he’ll get himself out of this corner after all.

“Just understanding the thought process behind that was really interesting. And to get all those things right, because audiences really — they start to become fascinated and put themselves in the minds of the characters and what they might be thinking,” Scott said. “To make the audience second-guess, I think to see the character failing and to see the character making mistakes, and the character just not being as sure-footed as we might see sometimes represented was really, really exciting. That’s something which we definitely talked about.”

The most physically daunting part, Scott said, came when Tom, after falling out of the boat and being struck in the head by its anchor, needs to pull his full body weight up out of the water and back into the boat to finish disposing of Dickie’s corpse.

“Just trying to get on a boat from an ocean, when you are exhausted, is exhausting. You’re truly, truly exhausted,” Scott said. “And you’re having to do that not once, but you have to do it, you know, countless times. So it really required a huge amount of physical and mental stamina.”

“Ripley” is now streaming in full on Netflix.

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