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“All the great actors are very picky”: Oldboy Director Park Chan-wook on Working With MCU Superstar Robert Downey Jr for ‘The Sympathizer’ Series

Oldboy Director Park Chan-wook on Working With MCU Superstar Robert Downey Jr for 'The Sympathizer' Series

HBO recently picked up the award-winning novel, The Sympathizer to be adapted into a limited series with the esteemed director, Park Chan-wook at the helm. The South Korean director already has a brilliant roster of films under his belt having directed films like Oldboy, ThirstThe HandmaidenSympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Lady Vengeance, and his latest, Decision to Leave. With The Sympathizer already in pre-production, the director talks about the film and its aspect, including the lead, Robert Downey Jr.

The Sympathizer
Adaptation of the Pulitzer-winning novel, The Sympathizer, is now under pre-production at HBO

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The Sympathizer at Work in HBO With Park Chan-wook

The Sympathizer narrates the story of a prisoner of war who in the final days of the Vietnam War unravels his duality as a half-French and half-Vietnamese Communist spy. The story grows more conflicted due to the power dynamics that are at play throughout the confessional narration of the spy. The unnamed narrator is a child of both worlds, grows up in a society condemned to otherize him, and although he is half Vietnamese and half French by blood, he is accepted by neither but serves his life as a soldier working for both the Viet Cong and South Vietnam.

The Sympathizer gets adapted by HBO
Viet Thanh Nguyen’s war fiction, The Sympathizer, gets adapted by HBO

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The novel, published in 2015, served as a debut work written by the Vietnamese-American professor and author, Viet Thanh Nguyen. The Sympathizer went on to win the lauded Edgar Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2016. The adaptation which has currently been financed by HBO will feature Robert Downey Jr. in his first television role in which he is set to co-star alongside a primarily Vietnamese cast. Speaking of the A24 drama series, Robert Downey Jr. claimed,

“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. 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.”

Robert Downey Jr. along with his wife Susan Downey will serve as executive producers on the miniseries.

Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. will co-star in the HBO series, The Sympathizer

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Director Park Chan-wook Discusses Partnership With RDJ

During the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival, the South Korean film director and screenwriter, Park Chan-wook, who also serves as a co-showrunner of The Sympathizer talks about what attracted his series star, Robert Downey Jr., to the project.

“Well, all the great actors are very picky, and I would think the reason why he chose this project is because he read the novel, and he liked the thoughts behind this novel and how this novel compares the Occidental values and Oriental values. And he has a great interest in telling the story of refugees and this novel tackles on the Vietnamese refugees who came to the United States after the war. So I think that was some of the reasons why he said yes to this project.”

Park Chan-wook
Oldboy director Park Chan-wook to collaborate with RDJ on HBO limited series

Also read: South Korean Cult Classic Oldboy Due To Hit US Cinemas For Its 20th Anniversary

With the series set to start shooting in November, director Park Chan-wook will additionally be joined by Don McKellar who will also direct the HBO production. Park and McKellar also serve as executive producers for the show besides Team Downey’s RDJ, Susan Downey, and Amanda Burrell. The series is currently slated for a 2023 release.

Source: Collider

Written by Diya Majumdar

At 25, Diya Majumdar is inching closer to getting to the bottom of every film and television's history in existence. Having graduated with honors in literature from Miranda House, DU, her passion and profession both include dissecting the world of cinema, with almost 500 published articles on Fandomwire. She is a liberally opinionated person with an overbearing love for Monet, Edvard Munch, and Van Gogh and boasts of being an avid painter of all their troubled works. If she’s not writing or painting, Diya can often be found in tattoo parlors across Delhi or on rooftops at 3 am listening to music.