Robert Downey Jr. has found his next big followup to 2019’s smash hit “Avengers: Endgame” in Park Chan-wook’s upcoming drama series “The Sympathizer,” which HBO has ordered from A24. The espionage series is based on Viet Tanh Nguyen’s 2016 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. The news was first reported by Deadline. Downey Jr. is “set to play multiple supporting roles as the main antagonists, all of whom represent a different arm of the American establishment — including an up-and-coming Orange County Congressman, a CIA agent and a Hollywood film director, among others.”
The project will bring “Oldboy” and “The Handmaiden” director Park Chan-wook back to television following his 2018 limited series “The Little Drummer Girl,” which starred Florence Pugh, Alexander Skarsgård, and Michael Shannon.
“Adapting Mr. Nguyen’s important and masterful work requires a visionary team,” Downey Jr. told Deadline 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.”
A hybrid of historical fiction and the spy genre, “The Sympathizer” centers around a mole from North Vietnam embedded in the South Vietnamese army. When the mole is exiled to the United States, he remains rooted in a local South Vietnamese community and becomes an advisor to an American film about the Vietnam War (think classics like “Platoon” or “Apocalypse Now”). The mole eventually returns to Vietnam to fight back against the communists.
Park is serving as co-showrunner with Don McKellar, and he will direct the entire series. Downey Jr., Susan Downey, and Amanda Burrell will executive-produce along with Niv Fichman and Kim Ly. Team Downey recently renewed its first-look deal with HBO, with the company producing the Emmy-nominated “Perry Mason,” as well as the upcoming “Sphere” for HBO.
HBO and A24 previously established a collaboration with the drama series “Euphoria,” which soon heads into its second season. They are also teaming up for a remake of Olivier Assayas’ film “Irma Vep,” with Alicia Vikander set to star.
Next up on the film side from Park Chan-wook is “Decision to Leave,” a romantic murder mystery.