Just when you thought your Netflix queue had reached full capacity, here comes “Maniac.” The streaming giant’s upcoming limited series is arguably the most anticipated television show of 2018, thanks to the involvement of Emma Stone, Jonah Hill, and director Cary Fukunaga.
Netflix is being incredibly tight-lipped about most of the show’s details, but IndieWire has gathered all the existing information about “Maniac” and brought it all together for a primer on the black comedy. Listed below are the 7 most important facts you need to know about “Maniac.”
Original Source Material
“Maniac” is adapted from the 2014 Norwegian half-hour comedy series of the same name. The show was created by Hakon Bast Mossige and actor Espen Lervaag, who also starred in the lead role. The show was told from the perspective of two back-and-forth narratives, one dealing with a patient in a mental asylum and another set in the patient’s internal fantasy world. The patient was rendered overweight and lazy in the real world, while his self-created version in his fantasy world appeared wealthy and heroic.
Netflix is keeping most of the adaptation’s plot specifics under wraps, but the brief official synopsis reads: “‘Maniac’ is the story of two strangers who find themselves caught up in a mind-bending pharmaceutical trial gone awry.” The Netflix synopsis does not mention a mental asylum setting, but the “pharmaceutical trial” alludes to the device that lets them live inside their own imaginations.
A Star-Studded Cast
Netflix’s “Maniac” is led by Emma Stone and Jonah Hill, who first starred opposite each other in the comedy “Superbad.” Both Stone and Hill got their starts acting in small television roles (Stone on series like “Malcolm in the Middle,” “Medium,” and “Lucky Louie,” and Hill on “NYPD Blue” and “House”), but “Maniac” easily marks their most high-profile television gigs to date.
The supporting cast includes “Girls” star Jemima Kirke, “The Leftovers” favorite Justin Theroux, two-time Oscar winner Sally Field, and Sonoya Mizuno, best known for playing the robot Kyoko in “Ex Machina.” Indie star Julia Garner also has a role in the series.
Michele K. Short/Netflix
Fukunaga Returns to Directing Television
While the “Maniac” cast is something to be excited about, the involvement of Cary Fukunaga behind the camera is no doubt a major selling point for many television viewers. Fukunaga got his start directing films such as “Sin Nombre” and “Jane Eyre,” but he became more of a household name for directing Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in the eight-episode first season of “True Detective.” Fukunaga won an Emmy for directing thanks to his work on the series.
“Maniac” is notable for being Fukunaga’s first directorial effort since “Beasts of No Nation” in 2015. “Beasts” was similarly a Netflix original production. In the three years since, Fukunaga developed and left the “It” movie and served as writer and producer on TNT’s serial killer drama “The Alienist.”
Meet the Writer: Patrick Somerville
Novelist and short story writer Patrick Somerville wrote all 10 episodes of “Maniac.” Somerville is mostly new to the world of screenwriting for television, although he did work in the writer’s room of FX’s short-lived “The Bridge,” which ran for two seasons and starred Diane Kruger and Demián Bichir. The writer is a Cornell graduate and published novels “The Cradle” in 2009 and “This Bright River” in 2012. His two short story collections, “Trouble: Stories” and “The Universe in Miniature in Miniature,” were released in 2010.
New York City Production
Principal photography on “Maniac” started last summer on August 15 in New York City. Filming lasted until November 2017. The series is a collaboration between Paramount Television and Anonymous Content, the latter of which was behind films like “Spotlight,” “The Revenant,” and the upcoming “Boy Erased,” and is still behind shows such as “Mr. Robot,” “The OA,” and “13 Reasons Why.” Hill, Stone, and Fukunaga are all serving as executive producers on the series.
First Look Photos Reveal Light Spoilers
Netflix upped anticipation for the black comedy with the release of first look photos on April 18. While the streaming giant is being extra careful about protecting spoilers, the photos do reveal some minor tidbits about the show. The “pharmaceutical trial” mentioned in the synopsis appears to be technology based, as characters can be seen sitting in chairs and wearing head devices. Justin Theroux’s character is wearing a lab coat, which means his recurring role is that of a scientist or doctor and not a patient. Sally Field can also be seen dressed very nicely inside some kind of facility, which suggests she could be playing a donor or executive of the pharmaceutical program.
The bad news is that Netflix has not assigned “Maniac” a release date as of April 2018. The show is rumored to be eyeing a release date in fall 2018. The show joins Netflix’s 2018 slate of new original series that already includes “Wild Wild Country,” “Lost in Space,” and “On My Block.”