Alessandro Nivola stars in Playground's 'Chimera' as the photographer who clicked the famous Tiananmen Square's Tank Man
'Chimerica' is infused with multiple political angles and numerous pressing matters and is based on Lucy Kirkwood's award-winning stage play of the same name
Playground (Wolf Hall, Howards End, Little Women) has announced that the filming for British playwright Lucy Kirkwood's 'Chimerica,' a four-part thriller about American photojournalist Lee Berger, has begun and will follow Berger as he attempts to rediscover his true calling as a photographer.
Screen Actors Guild Award-winning actor Alessandro Nivola, known for roles in 'American Hustle' and 'A Most Violent Year,' and 'Face/Off,' will be portraying Berger as the passionate idealist who is has lost his way after working years in war zones.
Berger fails to recreate the success of his past — his image of 'Tank Man,' the man in the white shirt, a carrier bag in each hand, and standing up to the might of the Chinese military in Tiananmen Square 30 years ago went on to become one of the most iconic photographs in existence — and when claims that the image is doctored begin to emerge, Berger finds himself in a fight to reclaim his credibility as a reputable photographer. But the only way to do it will be to find this mysterious Tank Man, who he's convinced is living in New York City.
Starring alongside Nivola will be Emmy Award winner Cherry Jones (Transparent, The Handmaid's Tale, 24) as Mel Kincaid, Berger's old friend and colleague who is 'fiercely intellectual and recently sober' while the younger version of Berger will be portrayed by Ty Simpkins (Jurassic World, Iron Man 3).
Also appearing in significant roles are the Oscar, BAFTA, and Golden Globe-nominated Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda, The Hollow Crown, The Slap) as Tessa Kendrick, a corporate-minded market researcher who runs into Berger in both China and NYC, F. Murray Abraham (Homeland, The Grand Budapest Hotel) as Berger's long-time mentor Frank Sams, and Terry Chen (Jessica Jones, Unreal) as Zhang Lin, Berger's friend from his time in China.
'Chimerica' will be based on Kirkwood's critically-acclaimed and Olivier Award-winning stage play of the same name and will explore "not just the relationship between East and West, but also some of the most urgent issues affecting society today."
There will be a political angle as well. The original play was set in the backdrop of the run-up to the contentious 2016 Presidential elections, with the 4-part thriller said to be updated with the tumultuous events that have punctuated the country's politics in the past two years. Pressing issues such as fake news, criminalization of political protest, the blurring lines between fact and fib are significant talking points too.
The series will be directed by the BAFTA-winning Michael Keillor, known for his work on 'Line of Duty,' 'Strike,' and 'Critical.' It has been commissioned for Channel 4 by Beth Willis, Head of Drama, and Simon Maxwell, Head of International Drama and will be produced by Playground with Colin Callender and Sophie Gardiner as Executive Producers alongside Kirkwood.