Dead Ringers showrunner on bringing the female gaze to David Cronenberg’s classic horror

Rachel Weisz in Dead Ringers
(Image credit: Amazon Studios/Total Film)

In Dead Ringers, Prime Video's reboot of David Cronenberg's 1989 thriller, Rachel Weisz plays Elliot and Beverly, gender-swapped versions of the twin gynecologists Jeremy Irons brought to life in the original flick. You can tell them apart by their hair – note Elliot's slight side parting in Total Film's exclusive new look above, as opposed to Beverly's middle one. Though the differences between the disturbingly co-dependent siblings extend beyond their hair...

Elliot is charming and confident, while Beverly is meeker, despite their shared, twisted ambitions for their clinic. Much like in the movie in which its based, the series is set to see tensions between the pair, who often pretend to be the same person in order to share sexual partners, boil over when Beverly falls for a woman named Genevieve (Britne Oldford). When the mysterious new crush finds out more about their devious ways, the duo find themselves pushed to madness – and malpractice.

"It's really hard not, through your own experience, to get angry at how underfunded and under-researched it is," showrunner and creator Alice Birch (Succession, The Wonder) says of the real-life stuff that inspires the Mantle sisters' work in the latest issue of Total Film magazine, which features Fast X on the cover. "It's really shocking. I feel like I was processing those things through the show too."

By bringing Dead Ringers up to date, the show is able to tackle so many of the contemporary fears of modern womanhood but also keep one foot in the grotesque imagery and eerie character study of Cronenberg's original. Much like Elliot and Beverly, the two come together for an intoxicating and truly horrifying combination.

You see, the show doesn't just explore themes of fertility and childbirth; it also shines a light on how minorities are often treated differently when it comes to healthcare. "We have a Black woman who isn't listened to by the white doctor with dire consequences and the research shows that happens consistently. We wanted it to start in a really grounded honest place," Birch adds. If the film is anything to go by, it may end up in a much trippier place.

"This was all Rachel's idea, she always loved the film and was looking for something that had a central female relationship," concludes Birch.

Alongside Weisz, who also acts as executive producer, the small-screen adaptation also stars Kevin Anton (Gotham), Michael Chernus (Severance), Jeremy Shamos (Better Call Saul), Emily Meade (Boardwalk Empire), Poppy Liu (Hacks), and Jennifer Ehle. Sean Durkin, whose best known works include Martha Marcy May Marlene and The Nest, is geared up to direct a few episodes, while Karyn Kusama, Lauren Wolkstein, and Karena Evans helm the rest.

Dead Ringers is set to premiere on Prime Video on April 21. For much more, grab a copy of the new issue of Total Film magazine, out now! Check out the covers below:

Total Film's Fast X issue

(Image credit: Total Film/Universal)

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Freelance Writer

Leila Latif is a freelance journalist, broadcaster, film critic, and self-described "haver of hot takes". She used that power (and years of experience) to cover TV and film for a wide variety of outlets such as GamesRadar+, Total Film, Little White Lies, The A.V. Club, SFX, BBC Culture, and many more. 

With contributions from