Photo: CBS Photo Archive / Contributor (Getty Images) and Matthew Horwood / Contributor (Getty Images)
Matthew Rhys has been tapped for the lead in HBO’s new Perry Mason show. The limited-run series has been in development for years with Robert Downey Jr., who was set to play the iconic role of the master criminal defense lawyer who has the gift of gab as well as a detective’s keen eye for solving cases.
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Downey Jr. is still executive producing the show under his production company (Team Downey) but has now passed the legal briefcase to Rhys, the talented Emmy Award winner fresh off his run on FX’s The Americans.
The intense but engaging actor is a major get for the reboot, which will be a Perry Mason origin story about him dealing with the post-traumatic stress of WWII while living paycheck-to-paycheck as a private investigator.
Although Rhys is a familiar face, some of us younger folk might not have a clue who Perry Mason is. Created by legendary detective fiction writer Erle Stanley Gardner, Mason’s tireless fight for justice dates back to the 1930s. Since then, Gardner’s work has been adapted to countless radio programs, comic books, television shows, and movies. The most famous adaptation was the long-running Perry Mason series on CBS starring Raymond Burr. It ran from 957 to 1966.
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Although no release date has been set or director hired, we do know from a Robert Downey Jr. tweet that the series will be set in 1930s post-Depression Los Angeles (pork pie hats!), and is scripted by Rolin Jones (Friday Night Lights, Boardwalk Empire) and Ron Fitzgerald (Weeds) who took over writing duties from Nic Pizzolatto who left to focus on True Detective: Season Three.
“Now it seems to me the place to start is at the beginning.”
“And it seems to me the beginning of any great project is casting my new best friend Matthew Rhys.”
Robert Downey Jr.
Executive Producer pic.twitter.com/jZl6Mm0GGx
— Robert Downey Jr (@RobertDowneyJr) January 14, 2019