Matthew Rhys will once again be playing an American -- this time, an American literary and television icon.
HBO has announced that Rhys, fresh off his award-winning stint on "The Americans," is set to return to series regular television in an adaptation of "Perry Mason." Rhys will play the titular Los Angeles defense attorney in a limited series for the premium cable outlet, and will produce alongside executive producer Robert Downey Jr.
Downey had originally hoped to play the character himself, and had spent years developing a "Perry Mason" feature film. He eventually moved the project to HBO, which cycled through several different writers (including "True Detective" creator Nic Pizzolatto) before securing current duo Rolin Jones ("The Exorcist") and Ron Fitzgerald ("Westworld").
On Monday, RDJ hinted at his relief to see the project finally move forward, sharing a photo of the script on Twitter and calling Rhys his "new best friend."
The character, originated in a series of novels by Erle Stanley Gardner, was most famously brought to life by actor Raymond Burr in the celebrated "Perry Mason" series, which ran on CBS from 1957 through 1966 and spawned numerous TV movies. In HBO's take, audiences will see Mason "at a time in his life when he is living check-to-check as a low-rent private investigator. He also finds himself haunted by his wartime experiences in France and is suffering the effects of a broken marriage."
Here's the offical logline for the series:
1932, Los Angeles. While the rest of the country recovers from the Great Depression, this city is booming! Oil! Olympic Games! Talking Pictures! Evangelical Fervor! And a child kidnapping gone very, very wrong! Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner, this limited series follows the origins of American Fiction’s most legendary criminal defense lawyer, Perry Mason. When the case of the decade breaks down his door, Mason’s relentless pursuit of the truth reveals a fractured city and just maybe, a pathway to redemption for himself.
HBO is currently searching for a director for the project. Stay tuned for more details.