HBO's Perry Mason Series Cast A Great Actor As The Lead Attorney

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HBO is teaming with Avengers star Robert Downey Jr. to bring on the return of TV's most prolific defense attorney with a new limited series focused on the great Perry Mason. The project just cast The Americans star Matthew Rhys for the (presumed) titular role, giving the actor another big project to sink his teeth into now that his FX series is complete.

Having just won the Golden Globe for Best Lead Actor in a Drama, Matthew Rhys is certainly moving in the right direction if he wants to potentially lock down more prestigious awards in the future. HBO's original projects are known to gain mass critical acclaim, of course, although the network is rarely in the business of rebooting fictional universes that previously existed elsewhere.

HBO's take on Perry Mason will take the character back to before he was an unstoppable force in the legal system. Matthew Rhys will be playing Mason as down on his luck, according to THR, with a dire financial situation that has him living from paycheck to paycheck. As the lower-tier private investigator, Rhys will be dealing with the aftermath of his own broken marriage, all while suffering PTSD from his experiences as a wartime soldier in France.

The official synopsis from HBO offers a more colorful and flowery take on what viewers can expect from the new limited 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's Perry Mason project has been in the works for quite a while, with the network first getting involved back in the summer of 2016. At that time, it was intended as a feature film starring Robert Downey Jr., who signed on for the project years earlier, with True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto writing the script. The latter had to drop out once the True Detective Season 3 ball started rolling, and he was replaced by Rolin Jones and Ron Fitzgerald, who are currently still the head writers.

Matthew Rhys will also be taking on the behind-the-scenes role of producer for the Perry Mason project, with Robert Downey Jr. serving as executive producer through his Team Downey shingle. Rolin Jones and Ron Fitzgerald, who made a name for themselves at HBO on Boardwalk Empire, will be taking on showrunner duties.

Based on the books from Erle Stanley Gardner, Perry Mason was a TV drama running from 1957-1966, with Raymond Burr in the starring role. The character later went on to lead a host of TV movies through the 1980s and 1990s, with Burr starring in 26 of those 30 films; Paul Sorvino and Hal Holbrook starred in the other four projects, which were produced after Burr's 1993 death.

Are you guys ready to see Perry Mason return to TV for a new generation of viewers? Stay tuned to find out when this project will be making its debut on HBO, and keep current with all the other new and returning shows with our midseason premiere schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.