‘Escape at Dannemora’ Is a ‘Human Story’ Says Director Ben Stiller

Ben Stiller behind the scenes on Escape At Dannemora. Photo: Christopher Saunders/SHOWTIME
Christopher Saunders/SHOWTIME

Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. In 2015, convicted murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, with the help of Joyce “Tilly” Mitchell, a prison employee who had been seduced by both inmates.

Now, the eight-episode scripted series Escape at Dannemora, produced and directed by Ben Stiller, is setting out to capture the bizarre tale in a relatable way. “It’s a very human story, and an example of human interaction in an extreme situation,” Stiller says.

Patricia Arquette as Tilly in Escape At Dannemora. Photo: Christopher Saunders/SHOWTIME

Patricia Arquette as Tilly in Escape At Dannemora.

Tackling the lead roles: Benicio Del Toro and Paul Dano as Matt and Sweat, with Patricia Arquette serving as the object of their affection. The events unfold in flashbacks, which were scripted using real transcripts from Mitchell’s eventual interrogation by New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott (Bonnie Hunt).

While the logistics of the prison break are riveting, the most compelling part for viewers may be trying to sort out this unorthodox love triangle. In the end, will Mitchell prove to be predator or prey? Teases Arquette, “She’s a little bit of both.”

Escape at Dannemora, Series Premiere, Sunday, November 18, 10/9c, Showtime