Big news today for fans of the 1985-1986 season of Saturday Night Live, and also the fourth season of Ally McBeal: Robert Downey Jr. is returning to television, his one true home.
This is per Deadline, which reports that the one-time Family Guy guest star (whose whereabouts from roughly 2009 onward are difficult to track, outside a long series of talk show appearances where he frequently discussed some sort of “Ironed Man”) has signed on to star in A24's adaptation of Viet Thanh Nguyen’s 2015 novel The Sympathizer. HBO has already ordered the adaptation of the espionage thriller to series, and it’s hard to blame them; in addition to Downey, the show has also secured the services of Oldboy’s Park Chan-Wook as both co-showrunner and series director. (Don McKellar will serve as the other co-showrunner. Downey, Susan Downey, Amanda Burrell, Niv Fichman, and Kim Ly are all set to executive produce as well, either for Team Downey or Rhombus Media.)
Nguyen’s novel, which won the Pulitzer Prize For Fiction in 2016, is a dense, complicated look at life during and after the fall of South Vietnam in 1975, as told through the confession of an unnamed narrator whose loyalties remain almost permanently split as he drifts from Vietnam to Los Angeles and then all around the world. The central role of the narrator is still being cast, but Downey’s part is interesting, and juicy enough, that it’s easy to see why he signed on: Deadline reports that the actor won’t be playing a single character, but rather a wide variety of ominous American antagonists who exert control over the protagonist’s life, from a CIA agent, to a California politician, to a hostile director who consults the narrator on a film he’s making about the Vietnam War. (Basically, it’s a buffet of arrogant, charmingly malevolent weirdos, which: Yeah, we can see the appeal.)
Downey expressed his own enthusiasm for the project in a statement today, declaring that, “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.”