EXCLUSIVE: Marc Munden (Utopia) and Fernando Meireilles (The Two Popes) have been tapped to direct episodes of The Sympathizer, a drama series adaptation of Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, produced by and co-starring Robert Downey Jr. The HBO/A24 series also has added three new cast members, Duy Nguyen, Kayli Tran and VyVy Nguyen.
The Sympathizer 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.
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.
Munden will direct episodes 5,6, and 7 and Meirelles will direct episode 4.
Duy Nguyen will play Man, the Captain’s blood brother and spy handler. His magnetism and intellect draw the Captain into working for the Communist cause.
Kayli Tran portrays The Communist Spy, a determined woman who’s willing to put everything on the line for the cause, but when she finds herself in enemy hands, her commitment is tested.
VyVy Nguyen plays The Major’s Wife, a seemingly sweet woman whose fierce devotion to her husband and country leads to dire ramifications.
They join Downey Jr., who is set to play multiple supporting roles as the main antagonists, all of whom represent a different arm of the American establishment. Main cast also includes Sandra Oh, Kieu Chinh, Ky Duyen, Hoa Xuande , Fred Nguyen Khan, Toan Le, Vy Le and Alan Trong.
The series is currently in production, with filming in Los Angeles and Thailand.
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. Ron Schmidt, Viet Thanh Nguyen also executive produce along with Jisun Back for Moho Film. The series is a co-production between HBO, A24 and Rhombus Media in association with Cinetic Media and Moho Film.
Munden is a three-time BAFTA winner and eight-time nominee. His credits include Channel 4’s Utopia, Help and HBO’s The Third Day. Munden is repped by WME Agency and Independent Talent Group.
Meirelles received a Best Director Academy Award nomination for his renowned film City of God. He most recently directed The Two Popes, which earned Academy Award, Golden Globes and British Film Academy nominations. Meirelles is repped by LBI Entertainment.
Duy Nguyen is repped by Martinez Creative Management. Kayli Tran is repped by GVA Talent Agency and Zero Gravity Management. VyVy Nguyen is repped by A3 and Crimson Media.
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