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Rebecca on Netflix - cast, plot, start date and everything we know

Armie Hammer and Lily James in Rebecca
(Image credit: Kerry Brown / Netflix)

Lily James, Armie Hammer and Kristin Scott Thomas appear in Netflix’s new take on classic novel Rebecca

Daphne du Maurier’s iconic 1938 novel Rebecca, about love, fear and ghosts from the past, is being brought to life in a compelling one-off film.

Here’s everything we know about Rebecca…

When does Rebecca air?

Rebecca airs on Netflix from 21 October.

Rebecca - what’s it about?

The film stars Lily James as a shy and nameless young woman who is working as a ladies’ companion and is swept off her feet by handsome widower Maxim de Winter in Monte Carlo. But as they start married life at Maxim’s beloved home, Manderley, the second Mrs de Winter realises that Maxim is haunted by memories of his glamorous first wife Rebecca.

“My character increasingly can’t tell what’s true and what’s not as the story goes on and it becomes overwhelming for her,” says Lily. “Towards the end she has to take on the role of saving Maxim’s life. She says that she would lie, steal, and do anything for him. But we take that literally in the film…”

Who’s in Rebecca?

Lily James and Kristin Scott Thomas in Rebecca

Lily James and Kristin Scott Thomas as Mrs de Winter and Mrs Danvers in Rebecca (Image credit: Kerry Brown / Netflix)

Alongside Lily, Armie Hammer (opens in new tab) plays Maxim. Dame Kristin Scott Thomas plays Manderley’s sinister housekeeper Mrs Danvers, who remains obsessed with Rebecca and eager to frighten off her successor.

“I’ve always wanted to play this part! What drew me to it was the mystery. We’re never really told anything about her background,” says Dame Kristin. “The only thing we know is that she’s a ‘Mrs’ and that she looked after Rebecca. What drives her to this insane obsession and shrine-building? What drives her to these destructive impulses? That’s what interested me, because it’s a blank canvas.”

Also look out for Keeley Hawes as Maxim’s sister Beatrice and Sam Riley as Rebecca’s suave but sleazy cousin Jack Favell. Bill Paterson features as Dr Baker and Tom Goodman-Hill is Manderley’s estate manager Frank Crawley. Ann Dowd is the second Mrs de Winter’s one-time boss Mrs Van Hopper.

Is there a trailer for Rebecca?

Yes, the sumptuous teaser begins in glorious Monte Carlo as the future Mrs de Winter falls in love with Maxim, who Mrs Van Hopper reveals lost his wife the year before. But as they arrive at stunning but spooky Manderley, the mood takes a darker turn as she is introduced to chilling Mrs Danvers. As Maxim declares, “All marriages have their secrets”, tension mounts. Mrs Danvers says ominously, “She’s still here, do you feel her?” and tries to poison our heroine’s mind. With shots of fireworks, a gun, terrifying flames and someone in the water, how will the dark events pan out?

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What else do we know?

The production team had to find the perfect country house to represent Manderley. In the end, eight houses across the country, from Cranborne Manor in Wiltshire to Osterley House in Isleworth, were used.

"In the book, some of Manderley is from du Maurier’s childhood, some is based around where she had a house in Cornwall. It’s a composite of houses and a space of dreams," says director Ben Wheatley. "We made our lives hard! Characters go out of one door at one scene and appear 200 miles away in another house. But it was worth it. It gives a feel to the house that we’d never have had if we stayed in one place."

Caren has been a journalist specializing in TV for almost two decades and is a Senior Features Writer for TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and What’s On TV magazines and she also writes for What to Watch.

Over the years, she has spent many a day in a muddy field or an on-set catering bus chatting to numerous stars on location including the likes of Olivia Colman, David Tennant, Suranne Jones, Jamie Dornan, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Derek Jacobi as well as Hollywood actors such as Glenn Close and Kiefer Sutherland.

Caren will happily sit down and watch any kind of telly (well, maybe not sci-fi!), but she particularly loves period dramas like Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey and The Crown and she’s also a big fan of juicy crime thrillers from Line of Duty to Poirot.

In her spare time, Caren enjoys going to the cinema and theatre or curling up with a good book.