Olivier Assayas is returning to the world of Irma Vep with a new limited series from HBO and A24. Alicia Vikander will star in the series which is described as loosely based on Assayas’ 1996 feature of the same name. Assayas will write and direct the series while Vikander will play “an American movie star disillusioned by her career and a recent breakup.” The original movie starred Maggie Cheung as a fictionalized version of herself.
Today Warner Media announced that an Irma Vep limited series is on the way, courtesy of Olivier Assayas, HBO, and A24. Here’s the synopsis:
Irma Vep will revolve around Mira (Vikander) an American movie star disillusioned by her career and a recent breakup, who comes to France to star as “Irma Vep” in a remake of the French silent film classic, Les Vampires. Set against the backdrop of a lurid crime thriller, Mira struggles as the distinctions between herself and the character she plays begin to blur and merge. Irma Vep reveals to us the uncertain ground that lies at the border of fiction and reality, artifice and authenticity, art and life.
The series is based – loosely– on the film of the same name, which Assayas also directed. Here’s the synopsis for the movie:
Washed-up French director René Vidal (Jean-Pierre Léaud) hopes to turn his career around with an update of “Les Vampires,” a silent-era masterpiece about about a notorious ring of thieves, led by crafty female crook Irma Vep. René brings in Chinese star Maggie Cheung (Maggie Cheung) to play Vep, but unexpected roadblocks arise on the set. Maggie doesn’t know French, she’s pursued by obsessive lesbian crew member Zoe (Nathalie Richard) and her character’s criminal ways begin to rub off on her.
I guess the biggest question here is why make a TV series based on a film famous for having an Asian lead and then not cast an Asian lead in that series? It’s a decision bound to raise more than a few eyebrows. In addition to starring in the project, Vikander will also serve as executive producer. “I have been a long-time admirer of Olivier and his work,” Vikander said. “I am very excited for us to work together, and to be a part of the expanded universe of his superb cult classic, Irma Vep. There are a lot of brilliant people coming together and I am delighted to be partnering with HBO and A24 on this special project.”
Assayas added: “I am immensely grateful to Alicia, A24, and HBO for giving me the incredible opportunity to explore and expand Irma Vep in a series format. This is a comedy that will try and catch the zeitgeist the same way the original Irma Vep did, in a very different world, a very different era, that right now feels light years away.”
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