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Naomi Watts & Bobby Cannavale To Headline ‘The Watcher’ Ryan Murphy Limited Series For Netflix

Deadline logo Deadline 6/14/2021 Nellie Andreeva
Naomi Watts, Bobby Cannavale holding a sign posing for the camera © Mega Agency

EXCLUSIVE: Naomi Watts and Bobby Cannavale are set as the leads in The Watcher, a Netflix limited series from Ryan Murphy and his frequent collaborator Ian Brennan.

No one would comment, but I hear The Watcher follows a married couple (Watts, Cannavale) whose move into their dream home is being threatened by terrifying letters from a stalker, signed “The Watcher.”

This marks a reunion for Watts and Cannavale, who star together in the upcoming movie Once Upon a Time in Staten Island.

Executive producing with Murphy and Brennan are Eric Newman (Narcos), Bryan Unkeless as well as Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (Catfish). Filming is set to begin in the fall.

The series, which evokes the first season of Murphy’s hit American Horror Story, is inspired by the infamous “Watcher” house in New Jersey. A couple bought the 1905 Dutch colonial revival in 2014 for nearly $1.4 million. They were forced to abandon their new home over chilling letters from “The Watcher,” who claimed to have been “watching” the house for decades. “I am the Watcher. Bring me your young blood,” one of the notes read.

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The family put the house back on the market. It didn’t sell, and they rented it out. In 2017, the renter also received a sinister letter from “The Watcher,” too threatening their life. The house ultimately sold in 2019 for $959,000. The identity of “The Watcher” remains a mystery.

In December 2018, after a ferocious bidding battle that involved six studios, Netflix landed “The Watcher” rights package that included an article by Reeves Wiedeman published on New York magazine’s website, The Cut, and the rights of the beleaguered homeowners. The seven-figure rights deal originally was for a feature with Joost and Schulman attached to direct and Screen Arcade’s Newman and  Unkeless set to produce through his first-look Netflix deal.

Brennan, who co-created with Murphy and Brad Falchuk the Fox dramedy series Glee, has served as writer/executive producer on all of Murphy’s Netflix series to date and has co-created four with him: The Politician, limited series Hollywood and the upcoming limited series Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story and The Watcher.

Two-time Oscar nominee Watts leads Amazon’s remake of horror cult classic Goodnight Mommy, which is filming. Her upcoming features also include Lakewood and Infinite Storm. On TV, she most recently portrayed Gretchen Carlson in the Showtime limited series The Loudest Voice. She is repped by CAA; Markham, Froggatt and Irwin in the UK; Untitled Entertainment; and Hansen Jacobson Teller.

Two-time Emmy winner Cannavale co-stars in the Netflix comedy movie Thunder Force. He next will be seen in the films Jolt, Seriously Red, Blonde and Lapham Rising and the upcoming Hulu limited series Nine Perfect Strangers. He is repped by WME, Framework Entertainment and Schreck Rose Dapello.

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