With his time playing Iron Man now over, Robert Downey Jr. has the chance to take his career in a new direction with fresh and interesting roles. His post-MCU career didn’t begin too well with the maligned Dolittle, but he’s looking to make up for that by starring in an adaptation of one the most acclaimed books of the last year.
Downey Jr. will star in an adaptation of Viet Thanh Nguyen‘s Pulitzer-Prize winning novel The Sympathizer for HBO, who are developing the series alongside A24. Park Chan-wook (Oldboy) will direct the series, and also act as co-showrunner alongside Don McKellar.
The novel is a satirical espionage thriller about the struggles of a half-French, half-Vietnamese communist spy during the final days of the Vietnam War and his resulting exile in the United States.
A worldwide search is reportedly underway for the lead role and the rest of the largely Vietnamese ensemble. Downey Jr. will play multiple supporting roles in the series, all of whom represent a different arm of the American establishment, including an up-and-coming Californian Congressman, a CIA agent, and a Hollywood director.
Downey Jr. will also produce the series with his Team Downey partners Susan Downey and Amanda Burrell, as well as Niv Fichman of Rhombus Media, and Kim Ly.
“Adapting Mr. Nguyen’s important and masterful work requires a visionary team,” Downey Jr. said in a statement. “With Director Park at the helm, I expect this to be a creative producing adventure for Susan, me and Team Downey, and a stimulating process for myself in playing these complex supporting roles.
A24 and HBO are the perfect combination of partners and co-parents. It’s exactly the type of challenge I’ve been craving, and I believe we will deliver an exceptional viewing experience to our audience.”
HBO and A24 collaborating to adapt The Sympathizer would have been great news in and of itself. The additions of Park and Downey Jr. only make this a more exciting project. Having been stuck in franchise world for the best part of a decade, it will be fascinating to see Downey Jr. stretch his acting muscles and play supporting roles in an acclaimed limited series like this.
Team Downey have a first look deal with HBO, so it’s little surprise that the project has ended up there. Team Downey also produced HBO’s Perry Mason series, recently picked up for a second season, while they also have a series adaptation of Michael Crichton‘s Sphere in the works, as well as an adaptation of Samantha Downing‘s forthcoming novel For Your Own Good for HBO Max.
A24 also retains a strong relationship with HBO, as they produce acclaimed series Euphoria, and are also developing a series remake of Olivier Assayas‘ Irma Verp starring Alicia Vikander for the network.
Considering both the producing and star power involved in The Sympathizer, HBO should have high hopes for the series.