Playwright and filmmaker Christopher Hampton first adapted Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ 1782 French novel “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” for the stage in 1985, with Lindsay Duncan, Alan Rickman and Juliet Stevenson among the cast members. The production eventually made it to Broadway two years later.
Hampton then helped bring the play to the big screen in a 1988 film directed by Stephen Frears, starring Glenn Close, John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer, as well as Keanu Reeves and Uma Thurman, both relative unknowns at the time.
So Hampton knows this story of aristocratic intrigues, seduction and cruelty well, which may be why he’s heading up an adaptation of the material for television. Deadline reports that BBC has a drama series based on the novel in development, written by Hampton and produced by Tony Krantz and Colin Callender. The project will be taken out to U.S. networks — as was the current co-production on which Callender and Krantz worked, “Dracula.”
This new “Dangerous Liaisons” will find Hampton going back to the original source material rather than looking toward his own previous adaptations, while also pulling from other novels from the same time period and literary movement.
“Dangerous Liaisons” has been brought to the screen and stage several times since the 1988 film. John Malkovich directed a production of the play in Paris last year, while a 2003 French miniseries brought the story to the 1960s, with Catherine Deneuve, Rupert Everett, Leelee Sobieski and Nastassja Kinski in the main roles. On film, there was Miloš Forman’s 1989 “Valmont,” with Annette Bening, Colin Firth and Meg Tilly, as well as versions set in 18th century Korea and 1930s China. And of course, there’s also “Cruel Intentions,” which shifted the story to teenage upper class New York, with Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Selma Blair and Reese Witherspoon as the leads.