Robert Downey Jr. To Co-Star In Drama Series Adaptation Of Vietnamese-American Novel

The novel, named 'The Sympathizer,’ was written by Vietnamese - American novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen, who won a Pulitzer Prize.
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Robert Downey Jr. To Co-Star In Drama Series Adaptation Of Vietnamese-American Novel
Photo: Deadline

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. Sources tell Deadline, HBO has ordered the A24 drama series adaptation of Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Sympathizer, with Downey attached to co-star.

Downey, via his Team Downey company, is also an executive producer and is set to appear on screen as well - playing several supporting roles - 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. A worldwide search is underway for the lead actor; the cast will be predominantly Vietnamese, said Hollywood Reporter.

The novel is an espionage thriller and cross-culture satire about the struggles of a half-French, half-Vietnamese spy during the final days of the war and his resulting exile in the United States. Described as a “blistering exploration of identity and America, a gripping spy novel and a powerful story of love and friendship,” the novel is hailed as a new classic of war fiction and has been compared to the works of Kafka, Orwell, and le Carré, according to Deadline.

Robert Downey Jr. To Co-Star In Drama Series Adaptation Of Vietnamese-American Novel
Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man. (Photo: Indian Express)

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

Both A24 and Team Downey are familiar with collaborating with HBO. Most recently, A24 and the premium cabler worked together on the Emmy Award-winning mature YA show “Euphoria” starring Zendaya, and the Olivier Assayas remake of his own “Irma Vep” starring Alicia Vikander. Team Downey currently produces the four-time Emmy-nominated “Perry Mason” reboot starring Matthew Rhys, Variety cited.

Oldboy 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. To Co-Star In Drama Series Adaptation Of Vietnamese-American Novel
Vietnamese - American novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen. (Photo courtesy of Viet Thanh Nguyen)

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 particularly since the end of his run. (Production on his 2020 film Dolittle began before Endgame‘s release.)

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.

Viet Thanh Nguyen (born March 13, 1971) is a Vietnamese-American novelist. He is the Aerol Arnold Chair of English and Professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California.[1] Nguyen's debut novel, The Sympathizer, won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction among other accolades. Nguyen is also a regular contributor, an op-ed columnist for The New York Times, covering immigration, refugees, politics, culture, and South East Asia.

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