Viewers of HBO’s gritty, noir reimagining of “Perry Mason” may have spotted a familiar name in the credits: Robert Downey Jr., who is one of the series’ executive producers.
In conjunction with the first season’s finale — which aired Sunday, August 9 — Downey spoke with series star Matthew Rhys about playing the iconic TV lawyer in his younger years before becoming a lawyer, working as a private detective in early-1930s Los Angeles.
“I was living out this incredible fantasy,” Rhys told Downey of getting into character and stepping back into that time period. “Getting into the car, throwing the cigarette, tipping the hat — trying not to impersonate Bogart.”
As Rhys told Downey, when he was first approached about reviving “Perry Mason” he had little interest in what he assumed would be a courtroom drama. It wasn’t until he learned that the new series would delve back into the origins of the crusading attorney, played by Canadian Raymond Burr for nine seasons in the 1950s and 1960s, that he became intrigued.
“It stopped me dead in my tracks,” Rhys admitted. “And I went, ‘Oh yeah, that would be interesting, it’s not just him at law school going ‘this is really hard,’ it’s an incredibly interesting origin story.”
The entire conversation can be seen in the video above.
Meanwhile, “Perry Mason” was originally intended to be a one-and-done limited series, but better-than-anticipated ratings led HBO to order a second season.
“It has been an exciting journey to work with the immensely talented team behind ‘Perry Mason’,” said Francesca Orsi, executive vice president of HBO programming, in a statement to TVLine. “Viewers have relished being transported back in time to 1930s Los Angeles each week, and we are thrilled to welcome the show back for a second season.”