Robert Downey Jr. Joins HBO’s Vietnam War Spy Series ‘The Sympathizer’ From ‘Oldboy’ Director Park Chan Wook

HBO has secured the rights to an upcoming spy series from Oldboy director Park Chan Wook and A24, an adaptation of Thanh Nguyen’s novel The Sympathizer. It focuses on the tail-end of the Vietnam War with a French-Vietnamese communist spy and should be a thriller show. The project has landed a heavy-hitting western actor as the rest of the cast will be led by a majority of Viennese actors.

Thanh Nguyen’s 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 currently underway for the lead role and the rest of the predominantly Vietnamese ensemble.

Deadline reveals that Robert Downey Jr. had nabbed a supporting role as various American antagonists in the show, a likely nod to the idea that American interventionism is executed and exploited by faceless cogs.

According to insiders, 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.

Park Chan Wook has dabbled with the genre before with John Le Carre series adaptation The Little Drummer Girl that starred Michael Shannon, Florence Pugh, and Alexander Skarsgard. He’ll direct episodes alongside being the show’s co-showrunner with Don McKellar.


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