Irma Vep: how to watch and everything we know about the Alicia Vikander series

Alicia Vikander walking on a roof at night in Paris in Irma Vep
Alicia Vikander in Irma Vep (Image credit: Carole Bethuel/HBO)

Twenty-six years after the original movie debuted for audiences, Irma Vep has become a TV series. The 1996 movie from Olivier Assayas received a 21st century refresh with this eight-episode limited series available on HBO/HBO Max in the US and Sky Atlantic in the UK.

The original Irma Vep is well regarded (a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 80 on Metacritic) and is considered among Assayas best movies. The TV adaptation of Irma Vep has received similar acclaim from critics. Here is everything that we know about the Irma Vep TV series. 

How to watch Irma Vep

US viewers looking to watch the Irma Vep limited series need a subscription to HBO Max. The streaming service is available as a standalone service or as an add-on to live TV streaming services like YouTube TV and Hulu. Side note, if you have an HBO cable subscription, you automatically have access to HBO Max.

UK viewers can watch Irma Vep on Sky Atlantic, available through Sky TV and NOW TV.

When is the Irma Vep UK release date?

The limited series premiered in the US on June 6 and ran through July 25. It's also available to UK viewers now on Sky Atlantic (and streaming on NOW TV).

What is the Irma Vep plot?

Here is the official plot of Irma Vep, per HBO:

"Mira is an American movie star disillusioned by her career and a recent breakup, who comes to France to star as 'Irma Vep' in a remake of the French silent film classic, Les Vampires. Set against the backdrop of a lurid crime thriller, Mira struggles as the distinctions between herself and the character she plays begin to blur and merge. Irma Vep reveals to us the uncertain ground that lies at the border of fiction and reality, artifice and authenticity, art and life."

Right away there is a difference between this new TV adaptation and the original movie, as the main character is an American actress, while the 1996 movie centered around a Hong Kong actress (Maggie Cheung). Otherwise, the general plot seems in line with the original movie.

Irma Vep episodes

Here is the synopsis for Irma Vep's first episode:

Irma Vep episode 1, "The Severed Head"
"When disillusioned A-list Hollywood actress Mira Harberg arrives in Paris to immerse herself in the coveted role of iconic villainous Irma Vep in a remake of Feuillade's The Vampires, an encounter with her former lover Laurie reignites dormant passions. Meanwhile, the project's acclaimed director Rene Vidal struggles as production woes threaten to derail his vision."

Irma Vep episode 2, "The Ring That Kills"
"Zoe attempts to connect with Mira. While production deals with an actor's unusual request, Edmond and Rene clash."

Irma Vep episode 3, "Dead Man's Escape"
"While Mira revisits her past, René unpacks his relationship with his ex-wife who once also portrayed Irma Vep."

Irma Vep episode 4, "The Poisoner"
"Mira courts offers from the productions financier and her agent while becoming immersed in her role. René experiences a vision and a crisis."

Irma Vep episode 5, "Hypnotic Eyes"
"As René defends a controversial scene, Mira deals with complex emotions as she sinks deeper into her character."

Irma Vep episode 6, "The Thunder Master"
"After René's latest blow-up on set, production's new plan threatens to reunite Mira with a figure from her past."

Irma Vep episode 7, "The Spectre"
"After Mira finds herself emboldened by the spirit of Irma Vep, a visit with René sheds light on her newfound abilities."

Irma Vep episode 8, "The Terrible Wedding"
"During her final days of shooting The Vampires, the boundary between life and art continues to blur as Mira considers a big opportunity."

Is there an Irma Vep trailer?

Trailers for Irma Vep are here. The unique look of the story, including Paris as a backdrop and the iconic black bodysuit that Vikander’s character wears, grab the eye, while brief glimpses of other characters and scenarios provide a proper tease without giving what’s in store. Check out all of the Irma Vep trailers right here.

Who is in the Irma Vep cast?

Oscar-winner Alicia Vikander stars as Mira, the movie star who decides to take on the role of Irma Vep. Vikander broke out in the early half of the 2010s with roles in Testament of Youth and Ex Machina, before going on to win her Oscar her Best Supporting Actress for The Danish Girl (a worthy win, even if she should have been up for lead actress). She’s not unfamiliar with her character’s blockbuster past, having starred in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Jason Bourne and Tomb Raider in her career. Her most recent credits include The Glorias, Blue Bayou and The Green Knight.

Alicia Vikander in Irma Vep

Alicia Vikander in Irma Vep (Image credit: Carole Bethuel/HBO)

Here is the rest of the Irma Vep cast and who they are playing:

  • Vincent Macaigne as René Vidal  
  • Jeanne Balibar as Zoe 
  • Devon Ross as Regina 
  • Lars Eidinger as Gottfried 
  • Vincent Lacoste as Edmond Lagrange 
  • Nora Hamzawi as Carla 
  • Adria Arjona as Laurie 
  • Carrie Brownstein as Zelda 
  • Tom Sturridge as Eamonn 
  • Byron Bowers as Herman 
  • Fala Chen as Cynthina Keng 
  • Hippolyte Girardot as Robert Danjou 
  • Alex Descas as Gregory Desormeaux 
  • Antoine Reinartz as Jeremie 

Irma Vep director Olivier Assayas

Olivier Assayas is directing all eight episodes of the Irma Vep TV series, bringing one of his most celebrated movies to the format. The French director has been around since the 1980s and has become one of the most respected international voices in movies. In addition to Irma Vep, some of his movies include Summer Hours, Demonlover, Clouds of Sils Maria and Personal Shopper.

He is no stranger to TV, with his mini-series Carlos earning two Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Director for a Mini-Series, Movie or Dramatic Special.

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Only Murders in the Building, Yellowstone, The Boys, Game of Thrones and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd.