‘Parasite’: What We Know So Far HBO’s TV Adaptation of the Surprise Oscar-Winner

Writer-director Bong Joon-ho at the Governor's Ball after receiving four awards for "Parasite" at the 92nd Academy Awards
Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP / Shutterstock

The 2020 Academy Awards shocked everyone Feb. 9 when its coveted Best Picture trophy went to Parasite. The critically acclaimed South Korean suspense-thriller-drama-comedy also earned awards for Best Director for Bong Joon-ho, Best International Film, and Best Original Screenplay—the first South Korean movie to win any of these awards. Given the film’s massive success, it should come as no surprise that a Parasite HBO series is on the way, helmed by Bong and Succession’s Adam McKay.

The original film—no spoilers!—follows the poor Kim family whose son, Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik), gets a job tutoring the child of a wealthy family. It’s a potent, dark, clever class warfare tale that won the Palme d’Or at Cannes over the summer and made it onto many critics’ best-of-the-year lists.

McKay and Bong hatched the idea for the limited series before the film’s historic Oscar wins. And while the small screen has been awash in movie-to-TV adaptations recently, including Fargo, Shooter, Limitless, and Westworld, the Parasite series will likely enjoy Bong’s full creative input.

The project, however, is still in its early stages of preproduction. While details are mum on the series so far, here’s everything that we know so far.

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Writer-director Bong Joon-ho backstage at the 92nd Academy Awards
Writer-director Bong Joon-ho backstage at the 92nd Academy Awards David Fisher / Shutterstock

Bong Will Be Back

The Parasite series will be another hit from the Bong, though it’s unclear at this time what role the award-winning writer-director will take on. At this point, Bong and McKay are developing the miniseries. Bong told TheWrap in an interview that he has an iPad full of ideas that didn’t make the final cut of Parasite, which he co-wrote with Han Jin-won, that he would like to take into the miniseries. Character backstories and moments with secondary characters that we never got to see on-screen. He plans to consult with McKay, who is also executive-producing with Bong, to hash out story details at a later date.

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The Limited Series Might Be Six Hours Long

Talking with The Hollywood Reporter, Bong explained his desire to pour his ideas into an extended take on the story. “I really wanted to explore those ideas freely with a five- or six-hour film,” he said. “With the TV series for Parasite, I think we’ll be able to create a high-quality, expanded film.”

Kang-ho Song, Choi Woo-shik, Hye-jin Jang, and Park So-dam in "Parasite"
Kang-ho Song, Choi Woo-shik, Hye-jin Jang, and Park So-dam in “Parasite” Curzon Artificial Eye/Kobal

It Won’t Directly Remake the Movie

Given Parasite’s open-ended conclusion, some have speculated that the miniseries would extend further, perhaps even acting as a sequel to the film. But the scarce interviews with Bong about the project make this seem unlikely—rather, the miniseries would be an expanded take on Parasite’s story, including ideas and story arcs that Bong never got to fit into his two-hour cut of the film.

“For example, when the [housekeeper] Mun Gwang [Lee Jung Eun] comes back in the late-night, something happened to her face. Even her husband asked about it but she never answered,” he said. “I know why she had the bruises on her face. I have a story for that.”

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It Will Probably Be in English

Bong’s no stranger to English-language films, having previously written and directed the Chris Evans–starring post-apocalyptic action film, Snowpiercer, and Netflix’s ensemble climate change drama, Okja. The director famously said at the Golden Globes that “once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” But the involvement of McKay—known also for The Big Short and Vice—and Parasite’s newfound status as Best Picture winner seem to suggest the miniseries will be an English-language adaptation of the story. (Snowpiercer is being adapted into a TNT series, as well, also executive-produced by Bong.)

Mark Ruffalo at the 92nd Academy Awards
Mark Ruffalo at the 92nd Academy Awards Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP / Shutterstock

Mark Ruffalo Is Reportedly Eyed to Star

Despite no deals in place and no casting currently underway, reporting by TMZ and Collider suggest that Avengers and Dark Waters star Mark Ruffalo has been eyed to star in the project. “I’d be honored to be able to play something in that. It’d be cool to part of it,” he told TMZ. It’s unclear which role he’d take if he even signed on—perhaps the good-humored, disheveled, poor patriarch played by Song Kang-ho, or is Ruffalo more in line with the affable, well-groomed, rich patriarch played by Lee Sun-kyun?

For now, the series is also called Parasite, and more details are expected to emerge in the coming months. Bong might still be partying after his Oscar win, after all. Give the man some time.

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