Is The Crowded Room based on a true story?

The Crowded Room
The Crowded Room /

The Crowded Room just debuted on Apple TV+ with an intriguing storyline that delves into the mind of a troubled man. But is it all based on real events? Find out!

Created by Akiva Goldsman (who won an Oscar for the screenplay for A Beautiful Mind), The Crowded Room is based on the 1981 book The Minds of Billy Milligan by Daniel Keyes. It told the story of Billy Milligan, who was arrested in October 1977 for three rapes at the Ohio State University campus. Milligan had a long history of felonies, including being imprisoned for armed robbery.

At his trial, Milligan’s lawyers used the defense that he suffered from multiple personality disorders resulting from an abusive childhood. They claimed this put Milligna into fugue states where he couldn’t be held accountable for his actions.

Milligan ended up being placed into a series of psychiatric hospitals and was suspected of escaping to kill someone else. Released in 1991, he kept under the radar until dying in 2014. Since then, there have been debates on whether Milligan truly suffered from multiple personalities or was putting on a performance to avoid being sent to jail.

It’s an intriguing idea, but The Crowded Room takes a different tact.

How is The Crowded Room different from the real story?

Besides changing the name of the main character to Danny Sullivan (Tom Holland), the show also changed the crime to a shooting in 1979 New York. It delves into Danny being questioned by a psychiatrist (Amanda Seyfried) who realizes so much of his past is fake and questions his true motives.

It appeared Goldsman wanted to put his own stamp on the story without directly using Milligan’s tale. Instead, he used it as inspiration for a take on whether Sulivan truly suffered from multiple personalities or is making it up.

That adds a new layer to an already captivating tale to make The Crowded Room a fascinating watch.

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The Crowded Room is now streaming on Apple TV+.