French filmmaker Oliver Assayas will write and direct a new miniseries version of his 1996 movie Irma Vep starring Alicia Vikander, who will also be executive producer. HBO has greenlit the show, produced by A24's Sam Levinson and Kevin Turen, who also produced Euphoria. Vikander will play Mira, an American movie star disillusioned by her career and a recent breakup, who moves to France to star as Irma Vep in a remake of the French silent film classic Les Vampires. The original silent film serial, which ran in French theatres from 2015 to 2016, is considered a classic. It featured a reporter and his crusade against a criminal conspiracy run by a gang known as The Vampires. Irma Vep, whose name is an anagram of "vampire", was one of the figureheads of the Vampires, a deadly thief and assassin in a black catsuit played by Musidora and one of the first femmes fatale in movie history. The character is a precursor to women in catsuits in genre fiction including Catwoman.
The 1996 movie version of Irma Vep starred Maggie Cheung as a version of herself and the late Jean-Pierre Leaud as the middle-aged French film director who's falling apart mentally. It screened in the Un Certain Regard section of the 1996 Cannes Film Festival. It was very much a movie of its time, addressing French movie history and the slow decline of the French film industry, the rising global popularity of Hong Kong genre movies that Maggie Cheung embodied in the story, and the cultural gulfs between West and East as Cheung's character becomes a fantasy figure for various members of the production.
"When the opportunity arose to partner with Alicia and Olivier we jumped at the chance," said Francesca Orsi, Executive Vice President of HBO Programming. "Olivier is a master at weaving unique narratives imbued with levity and drama and Alicia is one of the most versatile, celebrated actors of our time. They have an undeniable, distinct vision for the reimagining of Olivier's cult classic film, and we can't wait to tell it with them."
"I have been a long-time admirer of Olivier and his work," said Vikander. "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."
"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," added Assayas. "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."
The new TV miniseries is set against the backdrop of a lurid crime thriller and follows Vikander's Mira as the line between herself and the character she plays starts to blur. It is exec produced by Assayas, Vikander, Sylvie Barthet, Levinson, Ashley Levinson, Turen through Little Lamb, and Stuart Manashil. It will be very French.