Robert Downey Jr. in The Sympathizer

Who Is Robert Downey Jr. In The Sympathizer?

Following his Oscar win for Oppenheimer, Robert Downey Jr has reclaimed his place among the world’s most popular actors, following it up with a role in HBO’s The Sympathizer. Like Oppenheimer, it’s a prestige project with high-concept ideas, taking his career in a new direction after the MCU.

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Here’s who Robert Downey Jr plays in The Sympathizer and why his appearance is so notable.

What Is The Sympathizer About?

The Sympathizer is a HBO miniseries based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name by Viet Thanh Nguyen. The book centers around a nameless narrator in the Vietnam War who is a mole in the South Vietnamese army feeding information to the Viet Cong. The novel sees the narrator travel to the United States among several Vietnamese refugees and continues to feed information to the Viet Cong after the fall of Saigon.

The first three episodes of the series are directed by Park Chan-wook, who most Westerners will probably know for directing films like Oldboy, The Handmaiden, and Decision To Leave. While the show will feature many Vietnamese and Asian cast members, it’s Robert Downey Jr’s appearance that is the most noteworthy.

Who Is Robert Downey Jr. In The Sympathizer?

Robert Downey Jr will play several roles in the series. The trailer shows four characters that he will be playing, but it is possible that he could be playing even more. Each of these roles appears to be an American that the narrator will encounter during his time in Vietnam, but they may even all be the same character given the series’ extensive spy themes and misdirections.

Park Chan-wook and Robert Downey Jr, who is also an executive producer of The Sympathizer, have kept the importance, names of his characters, and whether they’re all the same person under wraps, but the most recent trailer for the series makes it a point to mention how Robert Downey Jr completely transforms himself for each role, including shaving his head for his bald characters and wearing heavy prosthetics. If this massive undertaking pays off for Robert Downey Jr, then he may be adding an Emmy to his awards collection in the future.

The Sympathizer begins airing on Sunday, April 14th, 2024 on HBO and MAX and will run for seven episodes.


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Jesse Lab
Jesse Lab is a freelance writer for The Escapist and has been a part of the site since 2019. He currently writes the Frame Jump column, where he looks at and analyzes major anime releases. He also writes for the film website Flixist.com. Jesse has been a gamer since he first played Pokémon Snap on the N64 and will talk to you at any time about RPGs, platformers, horror, and action games. He can also never stop talking about the latest movies and anime, so never be afraid to ask him about recommendations on what's in theaters and what new anime is airing each season.