Is ‘Under the Banner of Heaven” a True Story? The TV Series Is Based on a Book

Under the Banner of Heaven is a new FX mini-series for Hulu. The show follows a murder that rocked the Mormon community. Buzz is already generating for the gripping series, whose premise is based on a true story.

'Under the Banner of Heaven' star Andrew Garfield wearing a burgundy suit and black shirt.
Andrew Garfield I Arturo Holmes/FilmMagic

‘Under the Banner of Heaven’ is based on a true crime book by Jon Krakauer

Like many shows, Under the Banner of Heaven was adapted from a book. Jon Krakauer’s 2003 book of the same name delves into the beliefs of the Mormon faith and one of Utah’s most shocking crimes. Krakauer tells the story of the 1984 murder of Brenda Lafferty and her baby daughter Erica.

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Brenda lived a quiet life with her husband, Allen Lafferty, and their daughter. However, Allen’s older brothers, Ron and Dan, disapproved of his marriage to Brenda. The brothers would kill Brenda and Erica after Ron’s claims that it was of God’s will. Ron and Dan were later arrested and found guilty of the murder.

Krakauer’s book about the case became a bestseller, and now it’s coming to the big screen.

The mini-series features an all-star cast

Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and director David Mackenzie are bringing Under the Banner of Heaven to television. The series features an all-star cast, including Andrew Garfield, who plays Detective Jeb Pyre, a central character in the story. Yellowstone actor Gil Birmingham has a supporting role as Bill Taba, Pyre’s partner.

The Lafferty family features many Hollywood A-listers. Cold Feet star Daisy Edgar-Jones is the young victim, Brenda, and Billy Howle plays Allen, Brenda’s husband. Avatar star Sam Worthington portrays Ron, the mastermind behind the murders. Wyatt Russell is Dan, Ron’s brother, and accomplice. 

Rounding out the cast are Rory Culkin, Denise Gough, Seth Numrich, Chloe Pirrie, and Christopher Heyerdahl, as members of the Lafferty family.

How is the series different from the book?

Like many book to TV adaptions, Under the Banner of Heaven will be different. The main focus, of course, is on the murders of Brenda and Erica. However, the story will be told from Detective Pyre’s point of view. 

Pyre is a fictional character added to the series to give the story more depth. Pyre is also a Mormon who questions his faith while investigating Brenda and Erica’s death. Early reviews of the mini-series are positive, with critics praising Garfield’s work. Decider.com calls Garfield’s portrayal of the conflicted detective “a captivating performance full of soul and vulnerability.”

Jones’ portrayal of Brenda is described as if “she’s lit from within by purity.” Meanwhile, Russell is “terrifyingly great” as Allen’s murderous older brother.

Under the Banner of Heaven promises to be this season’s must-watch series. Fans can watch the gripping true-crime drama when it premieres on April 28 on Hulu.

RELATED: Andrew Garfield Talks Mormonism’s ‘Beauty’ and ‘Terrible Problems’ Ahead of ‘Under the Banner of Heaven’ Premiere