Home » First Look at HBO’s THE SYMPATHIZER


by Jef Dinsmore
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We are always intrigued by new content that is prefaced with the phrase “HBO Original.” That’s the reason for our whole existence here, despite what Zaslav does. One such piece of content is THE SYMPATHIZER. Just what is it? Well, we didn’t have a detailed plot until we investigated the source material.  

TheSympathizer_BookBased on Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, 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. However, just because he was in the States did not mean his mission was over. It all unspools as flashbacks in a coerced confession of the spy, now a political prisoner.  

Whether or not the work plays out in the manner of the novel remains to be seen. The teaser we are given seems to play it out in real time but a coda at the end of the limited series could make it clear it was all flashback. Time will tell. It doesn’t get in front of us until 2024.  

Okay, so what? We don’t know the majority of the cast as shown there but it’s all good. Hell, we didn’t almost recognize Robert Downey Jr. either. Not only does he executive produce the work he appears in it as four different characters. And Sandra Oh is there as well. The main cast once again is Hoa Xuande, Fred Nguyen Khan, Toan Le, Vy Le, Alan Trong, Vy Le, Ky Duyen, with Sandra Oh, and Robert Downey Jr.


As to the proper credits – Co-showrunner, executive producer, writer, and director (episodes 1-3), Park Chan-wook; co-showrunner, executive producer, and writer, Don McKellar; executive producer, A24; executive producer and star, Robert Downey Jr., executive producer, Susan Downey, executive producer, Amanda Burrell for Team Downey; executive producer, Kim Ly; executive producer, Niv Fichman for Rhombus Media; executive producer, Ron Schmidt; executive producer and author of book, Viet Thanh Nguyen; executive producer, Jisun Back for Moho Film. Directors: Fernando Meirelles (episode 4), Marc Munden (episodes 5-7). Writers: Mark Richard, Naomi Iizuka, Maegan Houang, Anchuli Felicia King, Tea Ho. THE SYMPATHIZER is a Co-Production between HBO, A24, and Rhombus Media, produced in association with Cinetic Media and Moho Film. 

THE SYMPATHIZER is now on our radar. We will keep you posted.  

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