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Looking at his earlier work, I admit I wouldn't have imagined Rhys Ifans going on to have the career he's having today. Picturing him as the offbeat roommate in Notting Hill or the wiry, Welsh kicker in The Replacements, I guess I expected a series of similarly goofy roles for the actor, but he's proven my expectations wrong in all the right ways in the last decade, expanding his career beyond that of a film's comedic relief or the lead's sidekick, and earning an Emmy nomination and a BAFTA award in the process. Showtime may benefit from his talents, as Ifans is set to join Philip Seymour Hoffman and Kathryn Hahn in the network's comedy pilot Trending Down.
Written and executive produced by Shalom Auslander (This American Life) and developed by Ken Kwapis, Trending Down will star Hoffman as Thom Payne, a man facing his own obsolescence after his advertising agency is taken over. The pilot is described as "a blistering attack on our youth-obsessed culture." Is Thom Payne the kind of guy who's unable or unwilling to keep up with the direction of advertising in this ever-changing society? With the setting in mind, I automatically think of Mad Men, but Trending Down will presumably be modern-day, not to mention a comedy.
Showtime announced this week that Ifans will play Payne's boss Jonathan Clow. No additional information was given about him beyond that, so is he a contributing factor to Payne's feelings of obsolescence? Or is he a supportive guy who sees the value in experience from Payne, even in "our youth-obsessed culture"? That remains to be seen, assuming Trending Down makes it beyond the pilot stage. Hahn is set to play Payne's wife.
As mentioned, some of Ifans earlier credits include Notting Hill and The Replacements. He went on to with the BAFTA and Emmy nomination for the TV movie Not Only but Always. More recently, he played Xenophilius Lovegood in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and Winton Childs in The Five-Year Engagement. He stepped it up to show us his darker side in the villainous role of Dr. Curt Connors and The Lizard for The Amazing Spider-Man. While he's done some television, we know him better for his feature rules, so it'll be an interesting shift for the actor if things go well for Trending Down.
The pilot is set to start shooting on the East Coast this fall. Showtime notes that Trending Down is the third pilot pick-up from the network this year. It follows The Vatican and The Affair. The premium cable network gave series commitment to Penny Dreadful earlier this year. With Dexter on the way out and Californication showing its age, it's good to see Showtime looking to build on its crop of quality original programming. With Hoffman, Hahn and now Ifans on board, Trending Down certainly has plenty going for it in terms of on screen talent.