Warner Bros. Discovery has released the first teaser trailer for The Sympathizer,an upcoming espionage thriller based on Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 2015 novel of the same name. The show will be part of Warner Bros.’ new slate of programs to release on its rebranded Max platform in 2024.
According to the show’s logline, 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.” The series stars Hoa Xuande (Cowboy Bebop) as the titular spy. The trailer shows him ominously saying, “I could be Vietcong for all you know. A spy. How would you know?” He then laughs, saying, “I’m not, of course. I love America!” However, the implication remains that there is more to this character than meets the eye.
The Sympathizer Has an Impressive Cast
In addition to Xuande, the series stars an ensemble cast of Fred Nguyen Khan, Toan Le, Vy Le, Alan Trong, Ky Duyen, Sandra Oh, and Robert Downey Jr. Many of these roles have not been fleshed out. However, it is known that Downey Jr. will portray one of several antagonist characters, including a California congressman, a CIA agent, and more. One of the hallmarks of the novel was that the protagonist and narrator remained mostly anonymous, something that appears to carry over into the television adaptation.
The Sympathizer is helmed by Park Chan-wook, who serves as a co-showrunner, executive producer, and writer, and also directed episodes 1-3. The series was co-written by Don McKellar, who also serves as co-showrunner and executive producer. The show is executive produced by A24, Downey Jr. and his wife Susan Downey for their production banner Team Downey, Amanda Burrell, Kim Ly, Niv Fichman for Rhombus Media, Ron Schmidt, book author Nguyen, and Jisun Back for Moho Film.
It was first announced in April 2021 that Nguyen would be adapting his novel for A24. Park was attached as showrunner from the beginning, as Nguyen had said that he was impressed by the director’s 2003 noir thriller film Oldboy, and had said he “couldn’t imagine a better person to direct this TV adaptation.” Downey Jr. would join the cast that July, and a worldwide search for a Vietnamese lead eventually landed on Xuande. Filming on the series took place in Los Angeles and Thailand in 2022.
As this is only a teaser trailer, it is likely that additional footage from the series will be shown, especially since it does not have an official release date beyond 2024. The trailer for The Sympathizer can be seen below: