Robert Downey Jr Plays Four Characters In First Look At His New Series

Robert Downey Jr. plays four different characters in his upcoming limited series The Sympathizer.

By Jessica Scott | Updated

robert downey jr

HBO just released a new trailer for its upcoming limited series The Sympathizer, which, as the credits exclaim, features Robert Downey Jr., Robert Downey, Jr., Robert Downey, Jr., and Robert Downey, Jr. in four completely different-looking roles. The Avengers actor also acted as an executive producer for the series, which is based on a novel by Viet Thanh Nguyen.

Robert Downey Jr.’s character is not the protagonist in this spy thriller series, however. That honor goes to Hoa Xuande, an actor known for his roles in 2021’s Cowboy Bebop, 2020’s Hungry Ghosts, and 2013’s Top of the Lake. The show’s other stars include Sandra Oh, Toan Le, Fred Nguyen Khan, and Ky Duyen.

This teaser for Robert Downey Jr.’s new limited series was shown today as a part of Warner Bros. Discovery’s announcement about its new Max streaming platform, which will bring together content from HBO, Warner Bros., Discovery Channel, the DCU, Food Network, HGTV, TLC, and more. It will replace what is currently known as HBO Max on May 23, 2023.

Getting back to Robert Downey Jr. and The Sympathizer, though, the story also acts as a satire about the obstacles faced by a communist spy toward the end of the Vietnam War. As if that weren’t enough trouble for one person to handle, the protagonist also has to grapple with his heritage as both French and Vietnamese, making things even more complicated.

Robert Downey Jr.’s four different characters in the series are each meant to represent different facets of American society. One is a congressman, another is a film director, and yet another is a CIA operative. 

Robert Downey Jr.’s wife is also involved in the project, acting as an executive producer as well. Park Chan-wook serves as an executive producer as well, in addition to being the show’s writer, director, and co-showrunner. Don McKellar also executive produces and acts as co-showrunner. Numerous other writers are also involved in the project, such as March Richard, Maegan Houang, Naomi Iizuka, Anchuli Felicia King, and Tea Ho. 

robert downey jr
Robert Downey Jr. in The Sympathizer

Now that his time as an Avenger is seemingly over, Robert Downey Jr. is free to pursue more (and more diverse) projects such as this one. He is also one of the stars of the upcoming film Oppenheimer from Christopher Nolan, in which he will play Lewis Strauss.

While Tony Stark was obviously a fan favorite role, fans are happy to see Robert Downey Jr. embracing more eclectic and meaty roles like these two now. It has been a while since he played a character that wasn’t part of a big franchise like Marvel or Sherlock Holmes, and audiences are looking forward to seeing if he still has that talent that made him famous in the first place.

The Sympathizer seems like a great project to stretch Robert Downey Jr.’s acting muscles and get him back on the map as someone other than Iron Man. Unfortunately, the premiere date isn’t until 2024, so we will have to wait until then to see this all-new side (or should we say “sides”?) of him.