‘The Sympathizer’ Teaser: Robert Downey Jr. Plays Multiple Roles in Park Chan-wook’s Espionage Series

Don McKellar co-showruns the HBO series set against the last days of the Vietnam War and also starring Sandra Oh.
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The Sympathizer Teaser: Robert Downey Jr., Park Chan-wook's HBO Show
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The Sympathizer Teaser: Robert Downey Jr., Park Chan-wook's HBO Show
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“Decision to Leave” director Park Chan-wook is headed to television.

HBO has released the official teaser and a new photo for the original limited series “The Sympathizer.” Park and Don McKellar co-showrun and executive produce the series based on Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name.

The new footage introduces the cast led by Hoa Xuande, Fred Nguyen Khan, Toan Le, Ky Duyen, and Sandra Oh and reveals star and executive producer Robert Downey Jr., who plays multiple roles as the main antagonists. The teaser was shown today exclusively during Warner Bros. Discovery’s unveiling of the Max streaming service on the Warner Bros. lot in Los Angeles.

Per the official HBO logline, “The Sympathizer” is an espionage thriller and cross-culture satire 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.

Downey’s antagonists represent different arms of the American establishment, from an Orange County Congressman to a CIA agent and a Hollywood film director.

“Overall, it’s a seven-episode series, and it’s set in 1975, immediately after the Vietnam War,” Park told IndieWire back at the 2023 Golden Globes red carpet, where he celebrated a nomination for “Decision to Leave.” “The story covers Vietnamese refugees who have migrated to L.A. and the stories surrounding that environment. Because of the context, casting revolves around having a lot of diversity, especially a heavy presence of Vietnamese and Vietnamese Americans.”

Credits include co-showrunner, executive producer, writer, and director (Episodes 1-3) Park Chan-wook; co-showrunner, executive producer, and writer Don McKellar; executive producer A24; executive producer and star Robert Downey Jr., executive producer Susan Downey, and executive producer Amanda Burrell for Team Downey; executive producer Kim Ly; executive producer Niv Fichman for Rhombus Media; executive producer Ron Schmidt; executive producer and author of book Viet Thanh Nguyen; executive producer, Jisun Back for Moho Film.

Directors also include “City of God” filmmaker Fernando Meirelles for Episode 4 and Marc Munden on Episodes 5-7. Writers include Mark Richard, Naomi Iizuka, Maegan Houang, Anchuli Felicia King, and Tea Ho.

“The Sympathizer” is a co-production between HBO, A24, and Rhombus Media, produced in association with Cinetic Media and Moho Film.

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