Is the Upcoming Crime Thriller 'The Stranger' Based on a True Story? Here's What We Know

Katherine Stinson - Author

Sep. 14 2022, Published 10:03 p.m. ET

Joel Edgerton as Mark in 'The Stranger'
Source: Netflix

Two strangers are united by a dark bond in Netflix's newest upcoming thriller The Stranger. One of the strangers is actually a prime suspect in a missing person case, while the other is the detective hot on his trail.

The premise seems rife with drama. Was the writer for The Stranger influenced by real-life events?

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We simply had to investigate ourselves for an answer to the biggest question surrounding the film — is The Stranger actually based on a true story? Here's what we found out.

Joel Edgerton as Mark in 'The Stranger'
Source: Netflix
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Is 'The Stranger' based on a true story? Who does Joel Edgerton play?

According to a Deadline report, The Stranger is in fact, based on the true story of one of Australia's largest investigations/undercover operations. Joel Edgerton plays Mark, an undercover police officer.

The film is loosely based on the real-life murder and kidnapping of 13 year old Daniel Morcombe. Luke Buckmaster's review of The Stranger from The Guardian notes that Daniel's family has actually spoken out against The Stranger.

Luke also notes in his review that Daniel isn't named in the film, writing, "If viewers went in cold, it’s unlikely they would connect the film to real-life events."

Daniel's father Bruce encouraged people to save the money they'd spend going to see the film and donate it to the Daniel Morcombe Foundation instead (via another report from The Guardian).

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Per the same report from The Guardian, Bruce and his wife, Daniel's mother Denise, argued that The Stranger was giving further notoriety to their son's killer. They said, "Its appalling storyline ignores our family’s pain and chooses to profit from 13-year-old Daniel Morcombe’s death. In a twisted way, it also provides oxygen to a sadistic beast by notarising his evil acts. Individuals who make money from a heinous crime are parasites."

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The production team for 'The Stranger' defended the film.

See Saw Films was the production company responsible for The Stranger. They defended the film in a statement, saying, "It tells the story of the unknown police professionals who committed years of their lives and their mental and physical health to resolve this case and others like it. When the film was first in development, the producers approached the family to make them aware of the film. They declined to be involved. It is a decision we continue to respect.”

(L-R) Joel Edgerton and Sean Harris in 'The Stranger'
Source: Netflix
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The production company said they omitted Daniel's name from The Stranger out of their respect for the Morcombe family. The Stranger's writer/director Thomas M. Wright described his intentions behind the film in an official press release.

Thomas said, "I centered the film on people who didn’t know the victim, but who devoted years of their lives — and their mental and physical health — to them; because though violence is the reason for this film, it is not its subject. Its subject is the connections between people. That means that, for me, this is a film defined by empathy."

The Stranger premiered at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year and will drop on Netflix sometime in October 2022.

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