The Sympathizer’s Hoa Xuande Is Not Your Typical Double Agent


On HBO’s The Sympathizer, Hoa Xuande has to put on loads of completely different hats. Based on the Pulitzer Prize–successful novel of the identical title by Viet Thanh Nguyen, Xuande stars as The Captain, a double agent spying for the Viet Cong whereas working for the South Vietnamese secret police through the Vietnam War. As the titular spy, the Australian Vietnamese actor performs towards the 007 archetype and brings a sure attraction and authenticity to a person compelled to guide a double life.

“They’ve got guns, they run around, they blow things up. They’re like the strong man and all that sort of stuff,” Xuande advised VF’s Still Watching podcast. “To play this role, I actually thought it was more important to get to the heart of the character—what motivates him, what drives him, what his psychology was. I thought that was more interesting. I really sort of tried to dig down into the essence of a human being living in a period where it was tumultuous, in the middle of conflict, you know, having to fight for your family, having to walk the line between allegiances and loyalties, between your beliefs. I thought they were the more important and more pertinent things to this character than holding a gun and lying.”

He additionally has to behave reverse loads of completely different Robert Downey Juniors. The current Oscar winner stars in The Sympathizer as a number of characters, all trying to make use of The Captain for their very own nefarious functions. “He represents all of those arms of the American society and their effect on the Vietnamese immigrant diaspora, and how their policies, how their outlook, how their teachings, even, affect the people who came to America, essentially seeking safety and survival and were not really afforded that opportunity,” Xuande says.

Below, Xuande talks concerning the arduous technique of reserving the function and extra.

Vanity Fair: Had you learn the novel earlier than you grew to become concerned within the challenge?

Hoa Xuande: I first obtained this audition in January of 2022, however I really began studying this guide two years prior once I was doing one other challenge. I discovered it merely from doing a Google search of fine books to learn and it popped up [laughs]. I had a protracted record of books that I used to be attempting to get by way of and I went to the library and The Sympathizer was simply a kind of books that I used to be like, Huh, this appears to be like attention-grabbing.

I started studying it, however as a result of I’m a gradual reader, I needed to return the guide. So, I couldn’t get by way of to the tip of it. Fast-forward to January 2022, I obtained my first audition. I instantly realized, Wait a minute, it is a guide that I began studying a few years in the past. Then once I noticed HBO and A24 and Park Chan-Wook directing this and Robert and Sandra hooked up…I used to be like, Oh my God, I’ve obtained to get my arms on this guide once more. So I went and purchased it, learn it cowl to cowl, and went by way of the hoops and hurdles of auditioning for the following 9 months.

What was that course of like?

Look, I submitted my tape, identical to I do every other tape. I used to be pretty assured. I didn’t suppose it was higher than every other tape that I did. I crossed my fingers and hoped that they appreciated it, however two weeks later I obtained a callback.


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