Is Ripley gay? Andrew Scott gives his take on the character’s sexuality

Andrew Scott stares off camera in a still for new Netflix hit Ripley.

Andrew Scott’s new eight-part Netflix series Ripley has dropped, but, according to the All of Us Strangers star, the jury is still out on whether the murderous scammer is in fact gay.

Based on the 1950s novels by queer author Patricia Highsmith, Ripley stars Scott as the scheming serial killer, who steals the identity of Dickie Greenleaf, after falling for his lavish lifestyle.

The novel was previously adapted for the big screen in 1999 in The Talented Mr Ripley, with Matt Damon and Jude playing Tom and Dickie respectively and a sexually-charged bathtub scene that lives long in the memory of many a queer viewer.

But whether Tom is ‘gay’ and actually falls for Dickie is another question, and one that’s been asked since Highsmith’s novel was first published.

Is Tom Ripley gay?

Considering Ripley’s fascination with Dickie, the question about whether the criminal is gay has long been attached to the famous story.

But Scott, who is gay himself, won’t be drawn on the fraudster’s sexuality.

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“I felt quite strongly that I didn’t want to overly diagnose – for want of a better word – his sexuality, or even his nationality, his age or his upbringing,” Scott recently told Queerty.

“I certainly think he uses the prejudice of the time for his own gain, because so much of the atmosphere at the time was coded about secrets, about what people say versus what they might actually feel,” he added, referring to the fact that Ripley is set in the 60s.

“There’s something enduring about this character, and I think it’s because we have so many questions about him… To reduce the character by answering too many of those questions is a crime in itself.”

Coming into the role from his recent, critically acclaimed turn in the explicitly queer film All of Us Strangers, Scott had to make peace with the fact that Tom Ripley is a more elusive beast.

“Your first job as an actor is to try [to] understand the character and not judge them… for that reason, you kind of love them,” the star said.

“The big challenge for me in this character was to accept the fact that there’ll be some part of Tom that I’ll never really know – as much as I want to – which made it a kind of lonely place to be.”

The character certainly seemed gay in the 1999 big-screen adaptation of The Talented Mr Ripley, with Matt Damon’s version seemingly enjoying a relationship with Peter Smith-Kingsley, played by Jack Davenport.

But author Highsmith was cautious to never explicitly label him. She trod a very fine line very in all five Ripley novels, never referring to him as one way or another.

Andrew Scott in the Ripley trailer.
Andrew Scott plays Patricia Highsmith’s dangerous-to-know scammer in Ripley. (Netflix)

In several passages of the books, Ripley is seen as being jealous of Dickie’s girlfriend Marge Sherwood, and seems deeply ambivalent about sex with his wife Héloïse Plisson later on in the novel series.

“He appreciates good looks in other men, that’s true,” Highsmith once said. “But he’s married in later books. I’m not saying he’s very strong in the sex department but he makes it in bed with his wife.”

Who is in the cast of Netflix’s Ripley?

Andrew Scott is the first out gay actor to play Tom Ripley on screen

Fleabag star Andrew leads the cast as the deceptive Tom Ripley. The role comes on the back of a huge year for the Irish actor, who was nominated for a Golden Globe and a Qwerty for his turn in Andrew Haigh’s ghostly gay romance All of Us Strangers. He’s also been nominated for an Olivier Award for his one-man play, Vanya.

Out of eight actors who’ve taken on the role on screen and in radio adaptations, Scott is the first who identifies as gay.

Andrew Scott
Andrew Scott is the eighth actor to take on the role. (Getty)

Johnny Flynn is Dickie Greenleaf

Dickie Greenleaf is played by British actor and singer Johnny Flynn – best known for his roles in Emma and the recently released One Life. He also played James Bond creator Ian Fleming in WWII drama Operation Mincemeat. He’s had musical success too with hits in the UK, including last year’s “The Moon Also Rises” with Robert Macfarlane.

Johnny Flynn as Dickie Greenleaf in Ripley.
Johnny Flynn plays the ill-fated Dickie Greenleaf. (Netflix)

Dakota Fanning is Marge Sherwood

Dickie’s wife Marge Sherwood is played by Dakota Fanning, who fans might recognise from the Twilight saga, The Secret Life of Bees, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood and as Tom Cruise’s daughter in War of the Worlds.

Dakota Fanning as Marge Sherwood in Netflix's Ripley.
Dakota Fanning plays Marge Sherwood. (Netflix)

Non-binary singer and actor Eliot Sumner is Freddie Miles

Non-binary singer-songwriter Eliot Sumner, who is the child of pop star Sting and actress Trudie Styler, plays Freddie Miles, a friend of Dickie who takes an instant dislike to Ripley and becomes one of the first people to suspect he’s up to no good.

Elliot Sumner as Freddie Miles in Ripley.
Eliot Sumner, who plays the suspicious Freddie, is the non-binary child of pop superstar Sting. (Netflix)

Among the other stars in the series is John Malkovich, who played the lead character in Ripley’s Game. More than 20 years on, he features as Tom’s mysterious friend Reeves Minot.

Ripley is streaming on Netflix now.