Matthew Rhys Replaces Robert Downey Jr. In HBO's First Look At Perry Mason Series

Matthew Rhys in The Americans Robert Downey Jr. in Dolittle

Raymond Burr is still the Perry Mason to many fans, but HBO has a new criminal defense lawyer coming to screens in 2020. Interestingly enough, it's not the Perry Mason that was originally expected. Robert Downey Jr. announced a Perry Mason project in the works at HBO in 2016, and he was meant to have the leading role.

There were some changes behind-the-scenes over time, and it was recently announced that The Americans' Emmy award-winning star Matthew Rhys would be taking the role.

Robert Downey Jr. is still an executive producer on HBO's Perry Mason miniseries, though, and he showed off the first photo of Matthew Rhys in the role:

A photo posted by on

Intriguing! What's our new Perry Mason checking out over his shoulder? We already knew the series would stick with the 1930s setting of author Erle Stanley Gardner's first Perry Mason mysteries.

According to HBO, the new Perry Mason series premiering on HBO is set in 1931 Los Angeles. "While the rest of the country struggles through the Great Depression, this city is booming: Oil! Olympic Games! Talking Pictures! Evangelical Fervor! And a child kidnapping gone very, very wrong!"

The limited series follows the origins of American fiction's most legendary criminal defense lawyer. When the case of the decade breaks down his door, Perry Mason’s relentless pursuit of the truth reveals a fractured city and just maybe, a pathway to redemption for himself.

Welsh actor Matthew Rhys is fresh off The Americans, aka one of the best TV shows of all time, and he'll soon be seen opposite Tom Hanks in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.

HBO had announced the potential new Perry Mason series in 2016, as written by True Detective's Nic Pizzolatto to star Robert Downey Jr. According to Deadline, the series was believed to stem from the Perry Mason movie RDJ and his producer wife Susan had set up as a passion project for Downey.

In August 2017, Deadline reported that new writers Rolin Jones and Ron Fitzgerald were hired, with Nic Pizzolatto returning his focus to True Detective Season 3. At the time, the drama was being eyed as an ongoing series, with future seasons depending in part on Robert Downey Jr.'s availability. Now RDJ is out, Matthew Rhys is in, and Perry Mason is being billed as a miniseries.

The cast of Perry Mason also includes Tatiana Maslany, John Lithgow, Chris Chalk, Juliet Rylance, Shea Whigham, Nate Corddry, Veronica Falcon, Andrew Howard, Jefferson Mays, Robert Patrick, Stephen Root, Gayle Rankin, Lili Taylor, and Justin Kirk.

Perry Mason has yet to reveal its premiere date, but that might be coming in tandem with an official trailer. Probably soon? Meanwhile, Robert Downey Jr. will return to screens for his first role after Avengers: Endgame with the family film Dolittle.

Gina Carbone

Gina grew up in Massachusetts and California in her own version of The Parent Trap. She went to three different middle schools, four high schools, and three universities -- including half a year in Perth, Western Australia. She currently lives in a small town in Maine, the kind Stephen King regularly sets terrible things in, so this may be the last you hear from her.