Viet Thanh Nguyen’s best-selling debut espionage thriller “The Sympathizer” is getting the silver screen treatment at HBO from A24. Robert Downey Jr. (“The Avengers” franchise, “Iron Man”) will co-star as well as produce the show.
Park Chan-wook, director of 2003’s “Oldboy” and 2016’s “The Handmaiden,” will serve as co-showrunner with Don McKellar (“Exotica,” “Last Night”). Filming is set to take place in Los Angeles and in Vietnam.
“The Sympathizer” is described as a 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. The TV adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is a co-production between HBO, A24 and Rhombus Media in association with Cinetic Media and Moho Film. Downey will play multiple supporting roles, all of whom will represent a different arm of the American establishment. These main antagonists include an up-and-coming Orange County Congressman, a CIA operative, and a Hollywood film director.
“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,” Downey said in a statement. “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.” Chan-wook will direct “The Sympathizer” adaptation and executive produce alongside Downey, McKellar, Kim Ly, Rhombus Media’s Niv Fichman and Team Downey’s Amanda Burrell and Susan Downey.