Netflix’s Keeps ‘Alias Grace’ Canadian with Anna Paquin (‘True Blood’)

There has been growing controversy about Hollywood’s tendency to “whitewash” characters by casting Caucasians as persons of color or making historically nonwhite roles white, and a plethora of excuses for how and why it continues to happen. In the meantime, Netflix’s adaptation of the Margaret Atwood’s “Alias Grace” is having no trouble staying Canadian through-and-through.

Today, it was announced that Canadian-born actress Anna Paquin (“True Blood,” “Roots”) — who at the age of 11 won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for 1993’s “The Piano” — will co-star in the fact-based mini-series as Nancy Montgomery, a housekeeper in Upper Canada in 1843 who is brutally murdered along with her employer, Thomas Kinnear.

“Alias Grace” stars Canadian Sarah Gadon as Grace Marks, a poor, young, domestic servant from Ireland, who was convicted of the killings, along with stable hand James McDermott. Both the novel and the miniseries adaptation introduce a fictional young doctor named Simon Jordan, who looks into the case as part of his research on criminal behavior and winds up becoming obsessed with Grace.

Co-commissioned by Netflix and Canadian broadcaster CBC and produced by Toronto-based production company Halfire Entertainment, “Alias Grace” began principal photography in Ontario on Monday with Canadian Mary Harron (“American Psycho,” “I Shot Andy Warhol”) directing from a script by Canadian actress/filmmaker Sarah Polley (“John Adams,” “Dawn of the Dead”). It will be broadcast in Canada on CBC and stream around the world (outside of Canada) on Netflix.

Polley is executive producing “Alias Grace” with Harron and Halfire Entertainment’s Noreen Halpern. D.J. Carson (“Spotlight”) co-produces.

Halfire previously produced the TV series “Working the Engels,” starring Andrea Martin, which aired on NBC in the U.S. and Shaw in Canada in 2014. In May, it began principal photography on the apocalyptic thriller “Aftermath” for Syfy and Canada’s Bell Media’s Space. It has offices in Toronto and Los Angeles.

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