“Mature” TV viewers will remember the show Perry Mason well. The original series features an attorney of the same name from the 1950s and 1960s. Now HBO is rebooting the iconic legal series but in a different format. Who is in the title role? None other than The Americans star, Matthew Rhys.
Matthew Rhys as Perry Mason
The newly Perry Mason reboot’s executive producers are Robert Downey Jr. and wife, Susan Downey. Both Robert and Susan are thrilled to bring the iconic drama back to the little screen. ET spoke to Susan, who revealed they had hoped her husband would play the title role. However, it wasn’t to be, as the timing was off.
Susan said Robert was thinking of playing the role of Perry Mason, but the timing just doesn’t work for an eight-episode mini-series. The pair decided to come up with a different Perry and eventually found Matthew Rhys of The Americans fame to play the role.
What is the HBO show about?
The original series was based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner. The reboot series is set in 1931 Los Angeles and serves as a prequel to the original Perry Mason TV show. It turns out Mason is a G.I. turned private investigator before he turns to the law.
As can be seen in the trailer below, the drama follows an unsavory investigation involving a famous comedian. Mason is hired to solve a mysterious case relating to the brutal kidnapping of one-year-old Charlie Dodson.
Speaking to ET about his role, Rhys said it is very apparent this will be a “very new, very different Perry Mason.” In the reboot, his version of Mason is a mescal-taking war vet, making a living as a private detective. This is very unlike his defense attorney character in the original show.
Who else stars in Perry Mason?
In the trailer, we also see actor John Lithgow playing the role of Elias Birchard, Mason’s attorney and an elder-statesman type. He is the one who gives Perry the assignment that kicks off the new series.
Some familiar characters are back in the reboot, although some are playing a slightly different role. Chris Chalk plays the role of Paul Drake. In the original Perry Mason, Drake was Mason’s right-hand man and private investigator. He was a major character in the show. In the HBO reboot, Drake is a beat cop, who is a good detective. While he won’t feature in the premiere episode, he will show up later.
No doubt, everyone remembers Della Street, who was Mason’s secretary in the original show. In the reboot, Juliet Rylance plays the role and it sounds like she will be more involved in the action than before.
New characters in the HBO reboot
Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) stars as the charismatic evangelist, Sister Alice. She becomes involved in the murder mystery. Talking of her new striking style for the series, she joked to ET, saying she was “made up to the gods.” Sister Alice is the leader of the Radiant Assembly of God and is fighting for justice over the death of the Dodsons’ baby. She will likely be at odds with the way Mason is handling the case.
Veronica Falcón plays Lupe, another new character to Perry Mason. On the show, she is a pilot who owns a speakeasy and is in a romantic relationship with Perry. Another new character is Pete Strickland, played by Shea Whigham. In the show, Strickland is Mason’s partner in crime, working to take photos for blackmail purposes.
HBO describes Strickland as follows: “Strickland has a brotherly rapport with Mason and a cheerfully rakish demeanor that wins friends and influences damsels.”
As for the parents of the murdered child, Emily and Matthew Dodson, Gayle Rankin and Nate Coddry play the role. At the start of the premiere episode, a villain is holding their baby boy captive. When they do eventually get their child back, he has been killed and his eyes are sewn shut. The trailer shows Mason’s reaction on seeing the child in the mortuary.
The rebooted Perry Mason premieres on Sunday 21 on HBO.