Eliot Sumner wears a brown leather jacket and leans on a roof wall overlooking New York City.


Eliot Sumner joins Andrew Scott in Steven Zaillian's Ripley, a classic tale of envy and obsession.

Photography by Max Farago
Styling by Edward Bowleg
10 April 20244 min read

Filmed in black and white, Steven Zaillian’s Ripley vividly renders the world of Patricia Highsmith’s masterwork in stunning contrasts. But Eliot Sumner, who plays Freddie Miles in the latest adaptation of The Talented Mr. Ripley, has always been more captivated by the enigmatic grifter’s shades of gray. “There’s something innately human about him,” Sumner says of the title character, who is portrayed exquisitely by Andrew Scott. “From his perspective, the world around him is out of reach, so he has to steal it. In a strange way, you are rooting for him to get away with it.”

While moral ambiguity courses through the series, the relationship between Sumner’s character, a fellow expat and friend of shipbuilding heir Dickie Greenleaf (Johnny Flynn), and Tom Ripley isn’t conflicted at all. “Freddie is this posh boarding school guy who’s unapologetically well-off, and he’s everything Ripley hates,” Sumner says. The actor’s approach to the role, however, was anything but one-dimensional. “Eliot auditioned, along with two hundred other actors,” says Oscar-winning writer-director Zaillian (Schindler’s List, The Night Of). “Almost all of them played Freddie as a loud, obnoxious American, which is how Highsmith described him in the book. Eliot chose to play Freddie as quiet, knowing, sophisticated, which I found more interesting.” Sumner’s version of the audition? “I really thought, It’s very nice of them to give me a shot, but I wasn’t going to get it.”

Eliot Sumner wears a dark top in this black-and-white shot.

Eliot Sumner

Opening look: Jacket by RRL (Eliot's own), Shirt and trousers by Nili Lotan, necklace by Miansai, and vintage belt. Above look: Overshirt by Diesel.

Of course, Sumner did, propelling him into one of his first major acting roles. “It’s a dream come true,” he says. When, at times, the shoot felt daunting, the actor found resonance in an unexpected place: “There were days where I felt like Tom Ripley, and I had this imposter syndrome of ‘I don’t know what I’m doing here,’” he recalls.

But it’s only the beginning for Sumner, who says Ripley “gave [him] the boost” to pursue the next acting challenge. “I really enjoyed every single day and loved working with the team. It was the best thing to have ever happened to me.”