Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Matthew Rhys Cast As Perry Mason In HBO Limited Series

Cue that dramatic music.

The HBO limited series Perry Mason, produced by Robert Downey, Jr.'s Team Downey, has found its lead in The Americans star Matthew Rhys. The series will focus on the rise of the most famed defense attorney in all of popular culture as a young private investigator. 

Deadline reports that Team Downey had originally announced it was developing the project in 2016, with True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto on board to write and Downey himself set to take on the title role. However, Pizzolatto quickly became sidetracked by True Detective's third season (which is shaping up to be a smashing return to form for the drama series), and Downey's feature commitments forced him to step aside. With Rhys' casting, the search is now on for a director; executive producers and showrunners Rolin Jones and Ron Fitzgerald (Weeds) will be penning the series.

Perry Mason was the prototypical legal drama, running on CBS for nine seasons between 1957 and 1966. It made a household name of its star, Raymond Burr, and set the template for virtually all courtroom-based dramas which followed it — particularly in its frequent use of last-minute resolutions, in which ace defense attorney and investigator Mason would exonerate his client by introducing a dramatic piece of evidence and/or a witness that would turn the tide in favor of his client, neatly wrapping up each week's case. Created by the iconic pulp fiction author Erle Stanley Gardner, the show spawned a revival series in the early '70s, as well as literally two dozen TV movies which aired between 1985 and 1995, nearly all of them starring Burr. (The last several featured tangential characters, and were billed as "Perry Mason Mysteries"; Burr passed away in 1993.)

The new limited series, taking place in 1932 Los Angeles, will focus on Mason as a young rough-and-tumble private eye, making his living case by case until a sensational child kidnapping pops up on his ever-astute radar. As his investigation threatens to rock the foundations of power in the city, he begins to develop the hard-driving style which will one day make him the most feared and respected defense lawyer in all the land.

The news comes on the heels of another sweet victory for Rhys, who just last night won the Critics' Choice Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series for his performance in the final season of The Americans. The actor will be appearing this year on the big screen in The Report, which details the CIA's use of "enhanced interrogation" tactics in the aftermath of 9/11, and opposite Tom Hanks in the Mr. Rogers biopic A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.

Team Downey, the production company founded by Downey, Jr. and his wife Susan, is seriously ramping up its slate after getting off to a slow start. So far, the only feature film to be released under the banner is the 2014 feature The Judge, but that's all about to change. Currently in the works for the production house are The Voyage of Dr. Doolittle and the third installment in the Sherlock Holmes series, both set to star Tony Sta- er, Downey; it has also announced its involvement in such varied projects as a live-action Pinocchio feature, an adaptation of the Paul Tremblay thriller novel A Head Full of Ghosts, and a pilot for Hulu based on the acclaimed graphic novel series Sweet Tooth.

Perry Mason looks to be at least one of the opening salvos for Team Downey to establish its foothold in TV production, and HBO — home of more prestige dramas than you can shake a stick at — couldn't be a better landing place. We'll be expecting more casting news sooner rather than later, but so far — with the casting of the immensely talented Rhys — it's off to a good start. We think it's safe to say that Burr would approve.