“Irma Vep” wasn’t Olivier Assayas‘ first film to premiere at Cannes, (that’d be his 1994 breakthrough ‘Cold Water‘), but the 1996 film is the one that made him a star. And not just a star: the success of “Irma Vep” made Assayas an overnight sensation in French cinema. Now, over twenty-five years later, Assayas returns to his biggest hit for a 2020s update as a limited series. And that’s not all: the series also follows in its predecessor’s footsteps with a world premiere at Cannes this year before it hits HBO.
The new series sees Alicia Vikander replace Maggie Cheung as the title character, an actress at a low point in her career who takes on the role of Vep in a remake of Louis Feuillade‘s silent crime serial “Les Vampires.” As production goes on, the lines between reality and fiction, authenticity and artifice, art and life, begin to blur to comedic and mesmeric effects.
Assayas’ new take on “Irma Vep” sees him partner with HBO and A24. “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,” Assayas says in HBO’s press release for the series. “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.”
Alongside Vikander, “Irma Vep” also stars Vincent Macaigne, Adria Arjona, Herrod Carmichael, Carrie Brownstein, and Fala Chen. Lars Eidinger, Vincent Lacoste, Hippolyte Girardot, and Alex Descas also star. Kristen Stewart also has a small role in the series, a reunion with Assayas after she starred in his 2016 film, “Personal Shopper.”
“Irma Vep” is Assayas’ first project since his 2019 Netflix film “Wasp Network.” It’s also his first limited series since 2010’s “Carlos,” which scooped up a slew of awards that year. This new “Irma Vep” is a dream project for Assayas fans: a return to a cult classic in a format he’s already an expert in.
After its world premiere at Cannes in May, “Irma Vep” hits HBO and HBO Max on June 6. With Cannes less than a month away, expect a trailer for the series shortly. Take a look at the original trailer below in the interim.