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Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany will join Rhys in the limited series, a new take on Erle Stanley Gardner’s crusading defense attorney.
The series is set in 1932 Los Angeles, a boomtown despite the Great Depression, with oil, the Olympics, talking pictures and evangelical fervor all animating the city — along with a child kidnapping gone very, very wrong. The series will tell an origin story for Mason (Rhys), who when the story begins is not a lawyer but a down-on-his-luck private investigator.
When the case of the decade breaks down his door, Mason’s relentless pursuit of the truth reveals a fractured city and, possibly, a path to redemption for himself.
Maslany will play Sister Alice, the leader of the Radiant Assembly of God. Preaching three sermons a day to a hungry congregation and a radio audience that spans the country, she’s an entertainer, politician and God’s conduit to the City of Angels. Sister Alice wields great power when she speaks and plans to use it in ways only she can know.
Maslany is currently on Broadway in Network, starring with Bryan Cranston and Tony Goldwyn. Her recent film credits include Destroyer with Nicole Kidman and Stronger; she won an Emmy in 2016 and earned two more nominations for her work on Orphan Black. She’s repped by ICM Partners and The Characters Talent Agency.
Perry Mason had been in development for several years at HBO. It was initially conceived as a starring vehicle for Robert Downey Jr., with True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto attached to write. (Downey is an executive producer of the current project.)
When Pizzolatto departed to write season three of True Detective, Rolin Jones and Ron Fitzgerald came aboard as writers and showrunners. They executive produce with Downey, Team Downey’s Susan Downey and Amanda Burrell, Joe Horacek and director Tim Van Patten. Rhys is a producer.
Perry Mason arrives as HBO is under a mandate from new corporate leadership to increase its roster of scripted originals. New series coming to the premium cable network in 2019 include Watchmen, His Dark Materials, Euphoria, Catherine the Great and The Righteous Gemstones.
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