Robert Downey Jr. sets first major TV role in 20 years with The Sympathizer adaptation at HBO
Robert Downey Jr. is heading back to the small screen in a big way.
The erstwhile Iron Man will costar in a TV adaptation of Viet Thanh Nguyen's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Sympathizer at HBO, EW has confirmed. Deadline first reported the news. The series will mark Downey's return to television after two decades, being his first regular TV role since Ally McBeal ended in 2002.
Downey will play multiple supporting roles in The Sympathizer as various antagonists, including "an up-and-coming Orange County congressman, a CIA agent, and a Hollywood film director, among others," according to a press release. Casting is currently underway for the lead role.
Oldboy and The Handmaiden filmmaker Park Chan-wook will direct the series, which A24 is producing, with Don McKellar serving as co-showrunner alongside Park. Downey and his wife Susan will also executive produce through their Team Downey production company.
Nguyen's novel, published in 2015, follows a Vietcong spy secretly living in exile in the U.S. at the end of the Vietnam War. Highly acclaimed, the book won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and a sequel, The Committed, was released in March 2021.
"Adapting Mr. Nguyen's important and masterful work requires a visionary team," Downey said in a statement. "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."
Downey's last onscreen performance was the title role in 2020's Dolittle, but he has been busy as a producer on such projects as HBO's Perry Mason and Netflix's Sweet Tooth. A release date for The Sympathizer has yet to be announced.