Paris by Night host Nguyen Cao Ky Duyen is making the headlines in Hollywood after being cast alongside Robert Downey Jr. and Kieu Chinh in HBO’s The Sympathizer series. RDJ is also the executive producer of the series. The three will all have recurring roles throughout the series.
After announcing the core cast of the series, who are all of the Vietnamese descent — Hoa Xuande (Captain), Fred Nguyen Khan (Fatherhood), Toan Le (General), Vy Le (Lana, the General’s daughter) and Alan Trong (The Tomorrow War) — more cast members were introduced including Vietnam’s beloved Ky Duyen.
Ky Duyen plays Madame, the General’s wife and elegant and commanding matriarch who’s desperate to keep her daughter modest and her husband from unraveling as they restart their lives as refugees.
HBO’s drama series is based on Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Sympathizer. It follows the Captain, a half-French, half-Vietnamese communist spy during the final days of the Vietnam War and his resulting exile in the United States.
After leaving Vietnam during the fall of Saigon in 1975, the Captain becomes enmeshed in the Southern California exile community and serves as a cultural adviser to an American film about the war. He’s later recruited to return to Vietnam for a raid on the communists.
Thanh Nguyen also authored Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America (Oxford University Press, 2002) and co-edited Transpacific Studies: Framing an Emerging Field (University of Hawaii Press, 2014). Additionally, he is also an associate professor at the University of Southern California. He teaches in the departments of English and American Studies and Ethnicity.
His writing has been translated into Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Spanish, and he has given invited lectures in China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Germany.
The post-Vietnam war drama is “a gripping spy novel, an astute exploration of extreme politics, and a moving love story.” Overall, the series explores a life between two worlds and examines the legacy of the Vietnam War in literature, film, and the wars we fight today.
Besides hosting Paris by Night, Ky Duyen is a celebrated personality in the country. She is the youngest daughter of South Vietnam’s former Prime Minister and Vice President Nguyen Cao Ky.
Ky Duyen co-hosted the variety show with Nguyễn Ngọc Ngạn. The show includes musical performances by modern pop stars, traditional folk songs, one-act plays, and sketch comedy.