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Drama Series of Vietnamese's The Sympathizer: 'Iron Man' Robert Downey Jr. To Co-Star

Tarah Nguyen Tarah Nguyen

thuyhang.vietnamtimes@gmail.com

July 16, 2021 | 09:02

After officially hanging up his Iron Man suit in Avengers: Endgame, Robert Downey Jr. looks to have found his next big role to tackle while also marking his first starring TV venture by filming a Vietnamese-themed movie produced by a Vietnamese Kim Ly.

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Drama Series of Vietnamese's The Sympathizer: 'Iron Man' Robert Downey Jr. To Co-Star

After officially hanging up his Iron Man suit in Avengers: Endgame, Robert Downey Jr. looks to have found his next big role to tackle while also marking his first starring TV venture through co-staring in drama series adaptation of Vietnamese Viet Thanh Nguyen’’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Sympathizer, Park Chan-wook Directing ordered by HBO to A24, according to the deadline.

The novel 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. A worldwide search is underway for the lead role and the rest of the predominantly Vietnamese ensemble.

Illustration of The Sympathizer by The New York Times
Illustration of The Sympathizer by The New York Times

ldboy director Park Chan-wook is on board as co-showrunner, along with Don McKellar, and also will direct the series. Park and McKellar will also exec produce along with Downey, Susan Downey and Amanda Burrell for Team Downey. Niv Fichman will also exec produce through Rhombus Media as will Kim Ly. The series is a co-production between HBO, A24 and Rhombus Media in association with Cinetic Media and Moho Film.

Robert Downey Jr. shake hands with Kim Ly and top filmmakers to create a TV work with Vietnamese colors
Robert Downey Jr. joins hands with Kim Ly and top filmmakers to create a TV series with Vietnamese colors. Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK, NVCC

The project marks the first role for Robert Downey since his final appearance as the iconic Tony Stark aka Iron Man, and the Oscar nominee has been particular since the end of his run. (Production on his 2020 film Dolittle began before Endgame‘s release.) After weighing several offers, sources say what made this role so appealing, besides an incredible story, was the opportunity to show his range as an actor. According to insiders, he 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 56-year-old actor has both taken on the role in the film and held the position of production director with Kim Ly and many other names such as: Susan Downey, Amanda Burrel, Niv Fichman...
The 56-year-old actor has both taken on the role in the film, to be the position of production director with Vietnamese actor and model Kim Ly with many other famous names such as: Susan Downey, Amanda Burrel, Niv Fichman...

“Adapting Mr. Nguyen’s important and masterful work requires a visionary team,” Robert Downey said. “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.”

According to insiders, he 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 partnership makes sense following the collaboration between Team Downey and HBO on Perry Mason, with Team Downey producing the HBO series. Matthew Rhys, who stars in the series, was nominated for an Emmy this week. Following the success of that first season, HBO and Team Downey re-upped their overall deal.

This marks the latest collaboration between A24 and HBO, who have worked together on the Emmy-winning Euphoria and the anticipated Olivier Assayas remake of his own Irma Vep, starring Alicia Vikander.

Park is best known for directing Oldboy, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. He is repped by WME, Industry Entertainment Partners and Hansen Jacobson Teller.

Robert Downey — who recurred on Ally McBeal in the early 2000s — is repped by WME and Hansen Jacobson Teller. McKellar is represented by Great North Artists Management.

Vietnamese actor and model Kim Ly is proud to be involved in the production

Kim Ly is proud to be involved in the production of a TV series adapted from a famous novel by Nguyen Thanh Viet and has the opportunity to shake hands with famous and talented international filmmakers.  PHOTO: NVCC
Vietnamese Kim Ly is proud to be involved in the production of a TV series adapted from a famous novel by Nguyen Thanh Viet and has the opportunity to work with famous and talented international filmmakers. PHOTO: NVCC

Notable names in this adaptation project must include Kim Ly in the role of production director. The Sympathizer marks his return after focusing on his own business.

The Sympathizer has been also a project cherished by Kim Ly for 4 years since the Saigon Bodyguard project. Sharing more about this project, the Vietnamese-born actor said: “I am very happy and honored to be able to produce a television series adapted from a great and important novel as The Sympathizer. Working with the leading director Park Chan Wook, my mentor Niv Fichman, top production companies A24, Team Downey and HBO, will be an great experience for me to learn many great things. Additionally, the participation of Robert Downey Jr as an important member of the cast is also a dream coming true to all of us."

"After more than 7 years of living and working in Vietnam, I have learned a lot more about my father's hometown and would like to introduce the country's colorful culture and glorious history, from the Vietnamese perspective. This is one of my first step for that journey.

I am very pleased to know and become friends with Nguyen Thanh Viet. He speaks up for the lowly, and has inspired me and many others a lot. Therefore, I decided to buy the rights to produce this product with an interesting mix of Vietnamese and American cultures, to be adapted into a television series, with the desire to introduce the colorful beauty of Vietnam to the world", Ly said.

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Tarah Nguyen