"It is with disappointment that I must confirm I have withdrawn from my commitment to direct the upcoming FX pilot 'Tyrant,'" he said in a statement Monday. "It is one of the most brilliant ideas for a series that I've seen and one about which I was very excited. However, after spending over four years making and promoting 'Life of Pi,' I have recently realized that I need some rest. Because I cannot give 100 percent to this exciting project at this time, I cannot allow myself to do anything that may affect the potential for this exciting new series.
"I wish Fox 21 and FX the best with this remarkable project."
No new director has been announced yet.
"Tyrant" will follow "the story of an unassuming American family drawn into the workings of a turbulent Middle Eastern nation," EW.com has reported.
Lee's films include "The Ice Storm," "Sense and Sensibility," "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" and "Brokeback Mountain." He won an Oscar this year for helming "Life of Pi."