# Warning! This article may contain spoilers for The Crowded Room
## The Crowded Room: A Complex Narrative Inspired by True Events
The new Apple TV+ show The Crowded Room centered its narrative around its complex character, Danny Sullivan, as it drew inspiration from the true story that reshaped the justice system. Portrayed by Tom Holland, Danny’s life takes a turn after he was arrested for a shooting he committed in Rockefeller Center in 1979. As Rya Goodwin, played by Amanda Seyfried, talks to Danny, fragments of his past emerge, that shed light on the moments in his past that shaped him and led him to commit the crime.
## The Minds of Billy Milligan: The Inspiration Behind The Crowded Room
This psychological thriller was inspired by the 1981 non-fiction novel The Minds Of Billy Milligan by Daniel Keyes, which depicted the first person in U.S. history acquitted of a major crime by pleading dissociative identity disorder. Akiva Goldsman, who was the Oscar Award-winning screenwriter of A Beautiful Mind, wrote and was an executive producer on the series. The Crowded Room delved into themes of mental illness, which offered an exploration of the intricacies of the human mind.
## The Crowded Room’s Danny Sullivan Is Inspired By Billy Milligan
Goldsman drew inspiration and shaped Danny Sullivan’s character in The Crowded Room after Billy Milligan’s life. After Billy’s father committed suicide when he was four, his mother remarried Chalmer Milligan, who physically, sexually, and emotionally abused Billy. Psychiatrists deducted that Chalmer first sodomized Billy in a barn by their house when he was eight. This continued abuse, coupled with the traumatic loss of his father at a young age, caused the split in personality. Billy was said to have 24 different personalities that all fought for control of his body, which led to the crimes that he committed.
These personalities included:
– Arthur, a mean British man that controlled who got to take over the mind
– Ragen Vadascovinich, who gave Billy super strength
– Allen, who cleaned up the messes of the other personalities
One of Billy’s personalities described his mind as a dark room with a light in the center that the personalities would stand in to gain control of Billy’s mind. When the mind was unconscious, the personalities were able to interact with each other and became what was described as a family.
## Billy Milligan’s 1977 Arrest & Crimes Explained
In 1977 Billy was indicted on three counts of kidnapping, three counts of aggravated robbery, and four counts of rape of women around the Ohio State campus. Before this arrest, he had already served time in a juvenile dentition facility, prison and had attempted suicide. He was let go from prison six months prior to the crimes committed in 1977. During his legal proceedings, Billy was appointed a public defender to represent him, and when he underwent his psychiatric evaluation, Billy claimed he had no memory of the crimes he was accused of.
Billy blamed his alter Regan, who controlled the spot while he was in jail, for the robberies and Adalana, a melancholic lesbian, for rape. An OSU police officer who rode with Billy to the police station said in an interview in 2007 for The Columbus Dispatch, “I couldn’t tell you what was going on, but it was like I was talking to different people at different times.”
## Billy Milligan Was The First Person Found Not Guilty Of A Violent Crime Because Of Dissociative Identity Disorder
Psychiatrist George T. Harding and psychoanalyst Cornelia Wilbur were called on to evaluate Billy, and they uncovered ten different personalities, eight male and two female, and discovered later that he had a total of 24. These personalities ranged from a three-year-old girl to a 22-year-old Brit. Harding and Wilbur diagnosed Billy with multiple personality disorder, as Billy had been “asleep” for the last seven years. Billy’s lawyers then pleaded not guilty on the grounds of insanity, as Billy himself was not the one who committed the crimes.
The case prosecutor, Bernard Yavitch, even said, “I saw multiple personalities. His speech pattern was different, his accents were different. He sat different ways in the chair.” Some in the medical community denounced the claim and pronounced it was a figure of speech or an act. However, on Dec. 4, 1978, Billy Milligan was found not guilty by reason of insanity on the basis of multiple personality disorder, which was the first case to rule in this way.
## What Happened To Billy Milligan After His Acquittal
Following his acquittal, Billy was transferred to Central Ohio Psychiatric Hospital, where he resided for the next 11 years. During his time there, he collaborated with Daniel Keyes on The Minds of Billy Milligan, which influenced The Crowded Room. Billy continued to find his way into the headlines as he escaped from the hospital in 1986 until he was caught a few months later. He was released from the hospital in 1988, and by 1991 he was no longer under state supervision.
After Billy regained his freedom, he briefly resided in California before he returned to Ohio to live in a mobile home his sister bought for him. In 2014 Billy died of cancer at 59 in a hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Notably, in 1994, the term multiple personality disorder changed to dissociative identity disorder to better reflex the condition. Mulligan is a prime example of how rehabilitation can offer a more compassionate alternative to discipline for individuals who have endured significant trauma.
## Billy Milligan’s True Story Was Almost Adapted Several Times Before Apple’s The Crowded Room
Apple TV+ was not the first adaptation of The Crowded Room, as the first name attached to bring the story to life was James Cameron. However, due to extensive negotiations and financial changes, the project collapsed, which caused Billy to sue Cameron as well as the other producer Sandra Arcara. This suit was also a significant factor in Cameron’s decision to drop the project as he said, “He got in the middle of this whole thing because he wanted his story told. He was running around creating more chaos, filing lawsuits. It turned into madness.”
David Fincher, Joel Schumacher, and Steven Soderbergh were other names that came up to direct the project, but none came to fruition. In 2015 Leonardo DiCaprio was attached to the adaptation, but like the previous attempts, it was unsuccessful. While the book adaptation continuously fell through, M. Night Shyamalan released Split in 2016, which took inspiration from Billy Milligan for Jame McAvoy’s character. The Crowded Room on Apple TV+ will be the first true adaptation of the book, which will offer a narrative based on Billy Milligan’s Life.
The Crowded Room premiers on June 9th on Apple TV+.