Amanda Burrell of Team Downey and 'The Sympathizer' wants to get the audience talking

There's no doubt that Hollywood is in the midst of a slowdown.

But despite the industry turmoil, Amanda Burrell and the production company she leads, Team Downey, have never been hungrier. As president of the Venice, California-based company founded by actor Robert Downey Jr. and his wife Susan Downey, Burrell is, in his own words, “voracious” for new projects.

The company has had several big successes lately, with HBO's Vietnam War miniseries “The Sympathizer” and Netflix's fantasy drama “Sweet Tooth.”

Burrell is optimistic that the entertainment industry will figure out where audiences are and what they want to see.

“The reality is that the public is there and they are voracious,” she said. “So we just have to figure out how to reach them and how to get them involved.”

What makes you enthusiastic about a project?

We often wonder here at Team Downey what marching orders we should give to the industry in terms of what to bring to us, and it's actually quite a challenge because we have “Sympathizer”, we have “Sweet Tooth” and we have “Perry Mason .” We carry out the entire spectrum. For us, it's really about things that are ambitious, things that are challenging, things that we know are going to be thematically rigorous and will engage with an audience.

And then for me personally it's really about the people we involve, people we talk to every day. Often it's just a conversation with a writer about an idea that just makes me happy.

You mentioned things that are ambitious, but also things that are challenging. Why did you stick with “The Sympathizer?”

We received A24's book from Park Chan-wook [“Decision to Leave”] connected, and I've been a big fan of his.

But I also think it was a recognition of the fact that, often in the American understanding of history, it is American-centered. And the fact that here was a Vietnamese protagonist and a community at the center, and it was really enlightening that it was just a bunch of people trying to make decisions about their future and what to believe and what to do. , and they are trapped in all these forces. It felt very human, and it felt really worth seeing through that cinematic lens.

Why do you think “Sweet Tooth” has resonated with viewers for three seasons?

It had this cinematic accuracy. [Showrunner and director] Jim Mickle was ambitious and he wanted to feel this point of view of this child and the way children look at the world with a level of optimism, beauty and hope. It was an incredible learning experience for me that first season. And then just finishing… it's so bittersweet because of the possibility that it could be a real catharsis for an audience to complete a coming-of-age journey for this character.

What else does Team Downey have in the pipeline?

So Robert [Downey Jr.] is going to play this play at Lincoln Center, which we're really excited about, “McNeal,” and we're producing that. We have “Play Dirty” at Amazon.

With the completion of 'Sweet Tooth' and 'Sympathizer' we are really rethinking what we want to release. A lot of our efforts will be put into the feature film space. We spent a lot of time on television, and that was great, and we still want to keep that alive. But with “Oppenheimer” and “Barbie” last year, I think we see a real opportunity in the performance space that wasn't there before.

Quick questions

what are you listening to now?

I listen to a lot of hip hop because my 9 year old is obsessed with 50 Cent. And then also the soundtrack of 'Challengers' if I need to hype myself up. I put on that Atticus Ross and just pump my car when I have to get ready for a meeting. My car has a very high octane rating.

How do you get focused?

I tend to get focused by multitasking. I tell my kids to breathe a lot, and I force myself to do it. But if I'm being completely honest, when I'm multitasking and juggling a lot of things, I can focus on one thing.

What do you do to relax?

For me, it's about being with my kids and listening to them talk about school. I Love Cooking. I like gardening. Going into nature, walking and being with my family. That's the most relaxing thing for me.

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