HBO’s reboot of Perry Mason is reportedly eying actor Matthew Rhys to take on the iconic hero lawyer role once played by Raymond Burr.
Emmy-winning The Americans star Matthew Rhys may take on the role of TV history’s most famous lawyer in HBO’s planned Perry Mason reboot. Rhys played Russian spy Philip Jennings for six seasons on FX’s The Americans, and this year the role scored him his first career Emmy after three prior nominations. The Americans wrapped up earlier this year, earning rave reviews for its gripping last season and stunning series finale episode.
Rhys’ profile indeed rose significantly as a result of his complex, sometimes tortured portrayal of Philip Jennings, a seemingly normal middle-class American dad who along with his wife Elizabeth is actually an undercover Soviet operative. Last year, Rhys scored a big role in an Oscar bait movie with his portrayal of Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg in Steven Spielberg’s The Post. Next up, Rhys plays the role of John Lockwood in Andy Serkis’ live action Mowgli, which has gone to Netflix after being sold by Warner Bros. He’ll also star alongside Tom Hanks as Hanks tackles the role of Mr. Rogers in the untitled movie based on the life of the beloved children’s television host.
As reported by THS, Rhys may also be lining up another role that will tie him in with a major part of television history. HBO is reportedly looking at rebooting the classic TV series Perry Mason, and THS reports that Rhys is being sought to play the lead role. Robert Downey Jr. is producing the reboot, which at last report had taken on new writers after the departure of True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto. Almost no details have been released about the planned reboot.
Originally, hero lawyer Perry Mason was a character featured in the fiction of writer Erle Stanley Gardner. Warner Bros. first brought the character to the screen in a series of low-budget features in the 1930s. But of course the character’s most familiar on-screen incarnation came along in 1957 with Raymond Burr in the role of the legal mastermind. The show would run until 1966, becoming one of early television’s most iconic drama series along the way. Attempts to resurrect the property would be made in 1973 and again in 1985 but neither show would catch on.
Downey was originally set to play Mason when HBO first began pursuing a reboot in 2016, but clearly plans have changed, with Rhys now being sought to play the lead role and Downey only wearing the producer’s hat. Given the early involvement of Nic Pizzolatto, it seems HBO may be seeking to make a grittier Perry Mason. Rhys would seem to be a perfect actor to take on the role of the idealistic lawyer, if indeed the series ever makes it to the screen.