Tom Holland as Danny Sullivan in The Crowded Room

Tom Holland Moves Further Away From Spider-Man in ‘The Crowded Room’

Tom Holland is moving to the small screen for the first time in eight years with his latest project, The Crowded Room. The new TV series from Apple TV+ will mark Holland’s second major project since the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Spider-Man trilogy. Holland is primarily known for his work in film and theatre, raising anticipation for his performance in the new series. The only other TV show he has appeared in was the limited historical drama series Wolf Hall back in 2015. Similar to his other post-Spider-Man project, Uncharted, The Crowded Room will also feature Holland as a producer.

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Of course, there’s a lot to look forward to in The Crowded Room in addition to Holland. The series boasts a stellar cast and was created by Akiva Goldsman, the writer behind A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man, I Am Legend, and several of Paramount+’s Star Trek series. Goldsman was first tied to the project in 2021, when it was reported that he was developing The Crowded Room as an adaptation of Danny Keyes’ non-fiction novel The Minds of Billy Milligan. This means that The Crowded Room is loosely inspired by the true story of Milligan, a man who was acquitted of his crimes due to suffering from dissociative identity disorder (DID).

Attempts to adapt Keyes’ books actually began back in the ’90s, when James Cameron was tapped to direct a film adaptation titled A Crowded Room. Unfortunately, the film never became a reality and sat in developmental hell for decades. Over the years, other directors—including Joel Schumacher and David Fincher—were attached to direct the film, with names like Leonardo DiCaprio and John Cusack slated to star, but it never became a reality. Now, Goldsman has taken over and turned the project into a TV series starring Holland.

Here’s everything we know about the long-awaited adaptation so far.

The Crowded Room release date

The Crowded Room is scheduled to release on June 9, 2023, and will be exclusively available to stream on Apple TV+. The first three episodes will air on the premiere date, after which one new episode will be released per week until July 28.

The Crowded Room trailer

The official trailer for The Crowded Room dropped on May 10, 2023, and gave viewers a peek at the psychological mystery elements of the series. It’s also vague enough to further intrigue viewers unfamiliar with the exact details of the plot. In the trailer, it’s clear that Holland’s character, Danny Sullivan, is being investigated for a crime. The crime isn’t specified, but it appears to be a shooting involving a young woman and her father, who rescued Sullivan from an assault. However, as the trailer continues and an investigator speaks to Sullivan, we find that there are multiple victims connected to him who have gone missing over the years. That’s when the cracks in Sullivan’s psyche start to show, as he admits, “I have these blank spots.”

There’s more to Danny than meets the eye, but viewers will have to watch the show to determine who he is and what exactly he has done.

The Crowded Room cast

Amanda Seyfried as Rya Goodwin and Tom Holland as Danny Sullivan in The Crowded Room
(Apple TV+)

As mentioned above, Holland stars in the lead role of Sullivan in The Crowded Room. Many initially thought he would be playing Milligan, but he will instead be portraying a character based on Milligan. Meanwhile, Mamma Mia! and Les Misérables star Amanda Seyfried will star opposite Holland as Rya Goodwin, a young investigator tasked with solving Sullivan’s case. In the trailer, Goodwin is seen speaking with Sullivan and seems to be the sole individual who believes he could be innocent and that the case isn’t as straightforward as it may seem.

Sullivan’s family will also appear in the show, with Dopesick star Will Chase portraying Sullivan’s stepfather, Marlin Reid, and Angelyne‘s Emmy Rossum portraying Sullivan’s mother, Candy. Marlin and Candy are likely inspired by Milligan’s stepfather Chalmer Milligan and his mother Dorothy Milligan. Meanwhile, Sullivan’s lawyer, Stan, will be portrayed by Catch-22‘s Christopher Abbott and may be inspired by Milligan’s lawyer, Gary Schweickart. Loki‘s Sasha Lane and The Mayor of Kingstown‘s Emma Laird star in The Crowded Room as friends and supporters of Sullivan, who accept him and understand the struggles caused by his past.

It seems The Crowded Room will also delve into that past, as A Quiet Place II‘s Zachary Golinger will portray a young Danny Sullivan. Also appearing in the show are Thomas Sadoski as Matty Dune, Sam Vartholomeos as Mike, Jason Isaacs as Jack Lamb, and Laila Robins as Susie, but no details have been disclosed about their roles aside from their characters’ names.

The Crowded Room plot

Sasha Lane as Ariana and Tom Holland as Danny Sullivan in The Crowded Room
(Apple TV+)

As said above, The Crowded Room is inspired by the story of Milligan and follows the mysterious case of Sullivan and an investigator’s attempts to get to the bottom of the criminal accusations against him. While inspired by Milligan, it is anticipated the show will take some creative liberties. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Holland said of Milligan’s story that he and Goldman “felt like it was a more appropriate story to tell from a fictional point of view.” This angle may work better for an adaptation of The Minds of Billy Milligan in that it seems it will focus more on offering perspective on mental health rather than trying to make Milligan appear as a sympathetic figure or take a stance on his trial. This may also make it a more sensitive and respectful adaptation as opposed to works like Monster: A Jeffrey Dahmer Story, which dramatize true crime cases.

This also means it’s not entirely clear how much of Milligan’s story will even feature in The Crowded Room. We can already see evidence of some changes in the trailer, such as the introduction of a seemingly wholly fictional character named Rya, and that Sullivan’s crimes don’t appear to involve sexual assault, as Milligan’s did. Additionally, the promotional materials seem to be trying to keep the DID aspect of Sullivan hidden, perhaps meaning it will figure into the series more as a plot twist rather than at the center of the show.

It is still anticipated that The Crowded Room will include some depiction of and commentary on DID, though. Milligan was the first person in U.S. history to be acquitted of crimes due to suffering from DID, as a psychiatrist diagnosed him with the disorder and alleged he had as many as 24 personalities. As a result, he claimed his alternate personalities had committed the crimes without his knowledge. After being acquitted, Milligan spent 10 years in a psychiatric hospital before being released and living the rest of his life in privacy.

The Crowded Room won’t be the first TV show or film to tackle DID, as works like Split and Moon Knight have been raising awareness for the disorder. However, this series will be different in that it’s not wholly fictional, hence it needs to be cautious in how it chooses to tackle Milligan’s controversial case.

(featured image: Apple TV+)

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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.