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Ask Molly: Hollywood’s Depiction of Spies

February 28, 2019


A banner stating, "Ask Molly, Your CIA source on the inside, #AskMollyHale," with a graphic of a woman in a grey hat and outfit.

Dear Molly,

Is Any movie about the CIA in anyway accurate or true? Even a little bit. #AskMollyHale

~ Film Buff 007

* * * * *

Dear Film Buff 007,

All Hollywood films and television shows, of course, take liberties when they portray the CIA, CIA officers, or intelligence work. I can’t really generalize and say “this film is accurate,” and “that film is total bunk.” They all probably contain some elements of truth and some of fiction.

Instead, I’d highly encourage you to explore our #ReelvsRealCIA series, which seeks to demystify the CIA’s mission by comparing what’s portrayed in Hollywood to what happens in reality. We’ve reviewed several Hollywood productions, both on our website and on social media. (You may have seen our Black Panther tweets during the Oscars or our Argo tweets from a few years ago).

Here are some links to get you started:

Lastly, an insider tip: If there’s one Hollywood habit that drives everyone who works for the Agency bonkers, it’s calling us agents. It might seem silly, but in the real-world lexicon of spies there’s a huge difference between the two: Americans who work for the CIA are called “officers,” while foreigners who provide information or intelligence to the CIA (the actual “spies”) are called “agents.”

Thanks for the great question!

~ Molly

ask molly

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