In HBO’s re-imagining of “Perry Mason,” Matthew Rhys takes on the role of the iconic TV character, albeit in an earlier form: not yet the defense attorney from the famous 1950s series, Mason is, instead, a younger, hardened private investigator investigating a horrific crime against the backdrop of 1930s Los Angeles.

“There’s an incredibly troubled man beneath the fedora when we first meet him and a far cry from, certainly, from the defense attorney, I think a number of people know and love,” Rhys tells Variety.

Susan Downey and husband Robert Downey, Jr. (Team Downey) serve as executive producers and had been developing the series for a decade.

Tatiana Maslany, John Lithgow, Shea Wigham, Chris Chalk and Gayle Rankin round out a heavyweight cast. Maslany plays Sister Alice, an enthusiastic congregation leader during the advent of the popularized religion movement in the U.S.

“I love the idea of a very public persona and then the truth of what’s going on underneath,” says Maslany.

For Chalk, it was the opportunity to bring to light stories from marginalized communities that were seldom represented in stories set in the era; he plays Paul Drake, a police officer.

“I’m not used to knowing anything about this time, because I don’t feel like any person of color was really represented in a way that they would say was honorable on TV and film back then,” says Chalk.