Tinker Tailor Solider Spy Cast
: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Tom Hardy, Ciarán Hinds, Mark Strong, Stephen Graham Director
: Tomas Alfredson Genre
: Suspense, ThrillerRated
: MA Running Time
: 125 minutesSynopsis
: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is the long-awaited feature film version of John le Carre's classic bestselling novel. The thriller is directed by Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In). The screenplay adaptation is by the writing team of Bridget O'Connor & Peter Straughan.
The time is 1973. The Cold War of the mid-20th Century continues to damage international relations. Britain's Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), a.k.a. MI6 and code-named the Circus, is striving to keep pace with other countries' espionage efforts and to keep the U.K. secure. The head of the Circus, known as Control (John Hurt), personally sends dedicated operative Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong) into Hungary. But Jim's mission goes bloodily awry, and Control is forced out of the Circus - as is his top lieutenant, George Smiley (Gary Oldman), a career spy with razor-sharp senses.
Estranged from his absent wife Ann, Smiley is soon called in to see undersecretary Oliver Lacon (Simon McBurney); he is to be rehired in secret at the government's behest, as there is a gnawing fear that the Circus has long been compromised by a double agent, or mole, working for the Soviets and jeopardising England. Supported by younger agent Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch), Smiley parses Circus activities past and present. In trying to track and identify the mole, Smiley is haunted by his decades-earlier interaction with the shadowy Russian spy master Karla.
The mole's trail remains cold until maverick field agent Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy) unexpectedly contacts Lacon. While undercover in Turkey, Ricki has fallen for a betrayed married woman, Irina (Svetlana Khodchenkova), who claims to possess crucial intelligence. Separately, Smiley learns that Control narrowed down the list of mole suspects to five men. They are the ambitious Percy Alleline (Toby Jones), whom he had code-named Tinker; suavely confident Bill Haydon (Colin Firth), dubbed Tailor; stalwart Roy Bland (Ciaran Hinds), called Soldier; officious Toby Esterhase (David Dencik), dubbed Poor Man; and - Smiley himself. Even before the startling truth is revealed, the emotional and physical tolls on the players enmeshed in the deadly international spy game will escalate
: January 19th, 2012David Cornwell's statement on Tomas Alfredson's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
I approached the prospect of a feature film of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy with the same misgivings that would have afflicted anyone else who had loved the television series of thirty-two years ago. George Smiley was Alec Guinness. Alec was George: period. How could another actor equal let alone surpass him?
And how could any movie director, even one as distinguished as Tomas Alfredson, tell the same intricate story in a couple of hours?
The television series had needed seven episodes. And slice it how you will, television drama is still radio with pictures, whereas feature film these days barely talks at all.
My anxieties were misplaced. Tomas Alfredson has delivered a film that for me works superbly, and takes me back into byways of the novel and its characters that the series of thirty-two years ago didn't enter.Gary Oldman's Smiley pays full honour to the genius of Guinness. He evokes the same solitude, inwardness, pain and intelligence that his predecessor brought to the part - even the same elegance.
But Gary Oldman's Smiley, from the moment he appears, is a man waiting patiently to explode. The danger, the pressed-down fury and the humanity that almost doesn't manage to keep its head above the parapet of despair, are Gary Oldman's own. If I were to meet the Smiley of Alec Guinness on a dark night, my instinct would be to go to his protection. If I met Gary Oldman's, I think I just might make a run for it. The film, through my very personal prism, is a triumph. And if people write to me and say, 'How could you let this happen to poor Alec Guinness,' I shall reply that, if 'poor Alec' had witnessed Gary Oldman's performance, he would have been the first to give it a standing ovation.
It's not the film of the book. It's the film of the film, and to my eye a work of art in its own right. I'm very proud to have provided Tomas Alfredson with the material, but what he made of it is wonderfully his own.
-John le Carre, July 23rd 2011
Copyright David Cornwell 2011Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Director's Statement
When I first met John le Carre, he was very clear about his wishes regarding the film version of his novel Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; "Please don't shoot the book or remake the TV miniseries. They already exist. I'm not going to interfere, but you can call me any time if there is anything you wonder about." I think we have obeyed him to the letter.
Of course, you cannot encompass every detail in a book of 349 pages at the movies. But you can take themes and strands and moments, and try to describe what you see.
With Tinker Tailor, Soldier, Spy, I think we've made a film about loyalty and ideals, values that are extremely relevant - perhaps mostly because they are so rare these days?
- Tomas Alfredson, August 2011Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy About the ProductionOut of the Past
Few writers comprehend the world of espionage as well as John le Carre, the author of over 20 novels. This comes from experience; he is a former member of Britain's MI5 and MI6, and he worked undercover at the height of the Cold War in the mid-20th Century, which infused his work with an unrivalled credibility. George Smiley is his most famous character; introduced in 1961 with the publication of the author's first novel, Call for the Dead, the quiet spy would return in some of John le Carre's most famous works. Among them was what is often regarded as his finest book, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, published in 1974 and acclaimed as a masterpiece of espionage fiction.
The shadow of Smiley, and the shadow world that he lived and worked in, have long loomed large over others' explorations of the business of espionage. The Berlin Wall ultimately fell, and the Cold War ultimately thawed; in the two decades since, storytellers have endeavored to revisit the years of paranoia and tension with fresh, objective perspectives.
So it was that when screenwriter Peter Morgan suggested a potential film adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Tim Bevan, co-chair of Working Title Films, one of the world's leading film production companies, felt that - to quote Smiley - "now is the time." Tim Bevan explains, "20 years on from the Berlin Wall coming down, it's a very different world, and I felt that doing a film about the Cold War with the benefit of hindsight would be quite an interesting idea, particularly when I saw [the Oscar-winning foreign film] The Lives of Others. I thought, why not make an English-language thriller on the topic, entailing who the enemy was then, and what the context was.
"Once Peter Morgan mentioned the book, I well remembered it as John le Carre's seminal work and the definitive Cold War story. So I approached him personally."
The author took to the idea. "He was quite enthused," notes Tim Bevan, who promptly began prepping the feature with his Working Title co-chair Eric Fellner and then recruited producer Robyn Slovo, who had teamed with company before. "The book had been very successfully adapted for television [as a 1979 U.K. miniseries] with Sir Alec Guinness playing Smiley. That was a highly esteemed production, and it was therefore quite brave of John le Carre to give us his blessing. It had been a long time since the miniseries, and we were setting out to make it for a contemporary audience.
"I also think he realised that he could open himself up to a whole new audience - certainly, a younger one. The appreciation and acknowledgment of his work is increasing."
John le Carre remarks, "I make my living and my reputation out of writing books - that's where my heart is. But the vast majority of the public doesn't read. Therefore, if they have access to the story through another medium, I'm delighted. If it inspires them to go and get the book, I'm doubly delighted.
"It's a huge thrill to get together with very creative people and watch from the outside as they work in a different medium."
Working Title has long worked with authors, "treating them with an enormous amount of respect," reminds Tim Bevan. "We've adapted a number of books into movies over the years."
When John le Carre accepted Working Title's proposal, he insisted that the filmmakers should not remain slavishly loyal to the book. Tim Bevan remembers, "He said he wanted us to make it as a period movie, but that we must reinterpret it." John le Carre reflects, "With Alec Guinness and a wonderful crowd of British treasures from the National Theatre, the television version was made, in a curious way, as a love story to a fading British establishment. It was done with great nostalgia; even the smallest, nastiest characters, were in some way huggable.
"The Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy that has now been made today is without sentiment, sexier, grittier, and crueller; it had to be."
The author adds that he believes that people continue to relate to the story because it is "not so far from corporate life, from the ordinary world. At the time of writing the novel, I thought that there was a universality that I could exploit. The book definitely resonated with the public; people wanted to see their lives in terms of conspiracy, and that remains central to the relationship between man and the institutions he creates.
"I wanted to make a secret world accessible; these are still ordinary people going about their personal and professional lives." The narrative centers on Smiley; fresh from his unwanted retirement, he uses all his accrued skills and knowledge to unearth a Russian mole who has burrowed deep within MI6, the British Secret Intelligence Service establishment known in the story as the Circus.
"The story, at its core, is a whodunit," says Tim Bevan. "Who is the double agent? But that core spirals into helixes, and the story moves through a couple of different periods of time. Make it too simple, and you under-represent the story's complexities. But make it too complicated, and you distance everybody. It's been a real balancing act.
"What's as relevant now as it was thirty-odd years ago, and will be in a hundred years' time, is how people betray one another's trust." John le Carre offers, "For me, this secret world was also a metaphor for the larger world in which we all live; we deceive one another, we deceive ourselves, we make up little stories, and we act life rather than live it." Robyn Slovo adds, "With its themes of deceit and betrayal, and honesty and dishonesty, this is a story about people looking into other people's lives - while not being honest about their own lives. I feel that it's a universal story." Spy Masters
While considering directors for the movie, Tim Bevan fielded a phone call from Tomas Alfredson, the Swedish filmmaker who had caught the world film community's attention with his striking and empathetic feature Let the Right One In. Alfredson had heard that Working Title would be making Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and so he initiated contact. A meeting was arranged. Tim Bevan remembers, "I was expecting some trendy young Swede to come through the door. But this very big man, about my age, came in and he was quite quiet.
"I asked for his take on the material. He said, 'Well, I think that all of the musclebound guys, they go and they join the army. And the nerds, they are the spies.' I thought, 'Now, there's an angle...'"
Robyn Slovo notes, "Here is a group of men who, on the one hand, are united in their place of work, and on the other are all separate individuals who harbour separate secrets - and are all looking and watching each other. We're spying on a spy world. This would naturally appeal to a very visually-driven director, but there would have to be a feel for the story as well."
Tim Bevan adds, "We were looking for a directorial vision from a confident filmmaker to firmly guide the audience through the narrative of this complex story. Tomas Alfredson was a bit of an unlikely candidate, but John le Carre saw Let the Right One In and said, 'Go with him.'
"The thing about period films is that the only thing 'period' about them should be the look. This allows for the viewer to have more of an emotional response. The director must create a world to journey through with the audience. These approaches characterised Tomas Alfredson' work on Let the Right One In, and now would again on Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy."
Robyn Slovo notes, "Tomas Alfredson is Swedish and this is an English story, so that brings an objective perspective; we don't go down the path of the overly familiar take."
Certainly for John le Carre, who had worked with Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles on the successful film version of The Constant Gardener, having a foreign filmmaker at the helm was a plus. The author says, "As on The Constant Gardener, I thought that what we would lose in parochial Englishness we would gain in internationalism and universality. Many of the structures of British society are replicated all over the world. I think Tomas Alfredson as a filmmaker brings amazing originality, and very strong on-screen 'handwriting.'"
Tomas Alfredson remembered the 1979 miniseries, which he had watched growing up in Sweden. He recalls, "When it aired, streets were empty; everybody was watching it. The story concerned something going on that was involving and affecting the whole world, but it had nothing of the 007 style about it - it was quite different from that, almost everyday, which made it extremely interesting."
The director's subsequent research into the era only intrigued him all the more. He elaborates, "What many people don't now realise is that, as a spy, you did your assignment and that was all you knew. It could be, working in a shop in Vienna for a year and writing down who goes in and who goes out of a door on the other side of the street; to do that, you would have had to learn German for months prior.
"Then you would get back and never know what it meant, but you had served your country. All you could say to family and friends was that you had been on a business trip. If you're in such an existence too long, you can fall prey to lies and paranoia. What does it do to your morale?"
The director concedes that because John le Carre's novel "is such a cornerstone of British literature", he did feel some pressure in taking on the assignment. "It's scary to handle material of this magnitude," he admits. "But you have to put that aside. If you are daring to do the job, you need to have strong connections to the material. I suppose I understand George Smiley's soul in some way. When I first met John le Carre, there was a very strong personal connection. It felt like I understood what he was expecting from a film, and I was very surprised that was so generous and open. Not only in terms of sharing information and details with us for hours at a time, but also in terms of how he said, 'Make interesting reflections of yourself.' So I set out to try to make the images I saw in the book, and the humanity of the characters, come to the screen."
After Peter Morgan had written a draft, Tim Bevan found that the screenwriter "wasn't available to keep going with the script, so we went to the team of Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan to write the screenplay adaptation. They worked very closely with Tomas Alfredson for almost a year."
John Le Carre offers, "When I read Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan's first draft, it was a piece of dramatic and intellectual architecture that I could admire. I knew I couldn't do something like that. At that point, I joined their work. It was not the film of the book; it was the film of the film. I think they did it splendidly.
"The greatest compliment all of the filmmakers paid to the book, as far as I'm concerned, was to make their own film from it. I was there as a resource, that's all; I knew the material very well, and I offered what mental agility I have." "Their first draft was so promising," remembers Robyn Slovo. "It helped make the development process very quick, and we started casting the movie by the time there was a third draft."
Staying faithful to the period when it was written and published, the feature unfolds primarily in 1973 (progressing into 1974). Tim Bevan adds, "The team's script represented the book, retained the complications of the book, and had integrity at its heart. As a producer, you're always looking for a compelling story, compelling emotion, and compelling characters. Their script had those elements, and it is very much their script that was shot."
The script was now in the hands of a director making his first English-language film. Tomas Alfredson muses, "I'm unpredictable with my career moves; something comes up and I'll feel, 'This is the right thing to do next.'
"This picture is certainly a big step for me. I've been doing films and television for almost 30 years, so it was a big change to work in a different language. But everyone was so helpful." Particularly so, he says, were the eyes and ears of the female half of the screenwriting team, Bridget O'Connor, who passed away just as filming began and to whom the finished film is dedicated. Tomas Alfredson reflects, "Since I wasn't interested in doing it like the usual thriller, talking with Bridget O'Connor about her interpretation and having her female eye on it was important. These men had to make use of their feminine sides and abilities. I needed that different perspective, and she helped me get it."
In his research, Tomas Alfredson was fascinated to learn that "there was a lot of homosexuality in this world. At that time in Britain, it was not accepted, and there were spies and agents who could not be open about their sexuality because they could then be blackmailed. So Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan were able to delve into this in the adaptation."
To the director, the story particularly resonates and reverberates with "eternal and dramatic questions of friendship, betrayal, and loyalty. "Also, as we've now reached a little distance from the Cold War era, we can look at what happened; were the bad guys truly the bad guys? We should know about our shared history, especially this piece that still echoes today."
Tomas Alfredson muses, "There's also the factor of, 'I know something that you don't know.' Say that, or hint that, to someone, and you've got their attention and are getting into their head." Being Smiley
While John le Carre has always maintained that the spy worlds he creates are far removed from the one in which he lived, the life experiences backing his work comes through especially strongly in the character portraits. In George Smiley, he forged an especially detailed one.
Although the late Sir Alec Guinness is most memorably associated with the part, John le Carre reminds that there have been several other George Smileys. "James Mason played him," reveals the author; the character, however, was renamed for The Deadly Affair, itself the retitled 1967 movie version of the author's Call for the Dead. Aside from Guinness, Smiley by name has been portrayed as a lead character by Denholm Elliott, and in cameos by Rupert Davies and Arthur Lowe. On radio, Simon Russell Beale, George Cole, Bernard Hepton, and Peter Vaughan have all starred as him. For Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Gary Oldman took on the challenge of starring in a feature film as one of fiction's most iconic spies.
Tim Bevan sees Smiley as "a quiet guy who disappears into the woodwork of a room, watches and listens very carefully. He has a hard core to him, but doesn't need to go chasing or shooting people to make his point."
Tomas Alfredson recalls the character description of Smiley as "'the perfect spy.' He is someone you would immediately forget if you saw him on the street. He never expresses anything, never gives away what he's thinking. He asks questions and gets his answers. So, you might think he's not a very cinematic character - but he is!"
To prove that point, an actor who is thoroughly compelling even when "not doing very much," as Tim Bevan says, was essential to the film. The producer remarks, "Gary Oldman can clean his glasses and it's as electrifying as somebody else punching someone out.
"Of his generation, he is probably the finest; Gary Oldman is held in very high esteem by his peers."
Tomas Alfredson adds, "When Gary Oldman was suggested for the role, the reaction was, 'Perfect!' Just look at this actor's career, and how many different characters he's played. Gary Oldman has all the star quality, yet he is also a chameleon; he doesn't have this voice that you would recognise through a wall.
"Gary Oldman tells us so much about Smiley through even the smallest expressions. When he raises his voice even a little, the effect is enormous. It's a very vulnerable approach, for an actor to work with such subtlety. It's been fantastic to see."
John le Carre, who counted Guinness as a firm friend, notes, "I identified with Alec Guinness in one way, but with Gary Oldman in a completely different one. They're different beasts in different products. What you feel with Gary Oldman is that he has an extraordinary command of himself as an actor; he steps right outside himself.
"With Gary Oldman you share Smiley's pain, share the danger of life, the danger of being who he is. That is much more acute. His is a tougher Smiley. He radiates the man's solitude, and conveys a little cruelty. I'm hypnotised by his performance."
Gary Oldman says, "I was very flattered to be asked to play George Smiley - just to be involved, really. Smiley is drawn from a world of John le Carre's personal experience; all of his complex characters are so fully realised.
Britain has a long espionage tradition, and I'd say we've spied quite well. But we have also held a rather romantic view of it, and John le Carre showed the reality. I hope this movie will encourage people to discover his books.
"George Smiley is a delicious character, and a wonderful role for an actor. He is many things at once; mild-mannered, sagacious, and perspicacious. He is a student of espionage, and a great manipulator of bureaucracy who works on his wits. Smiley has a prodigious memory, like a steel trap. He has an innate sense of the foibles, the weaknesses, and the fallibilities of the human condition. He possesses a strong moral sense, even though he recognises and understands the dark, unethical, and ugly side of what he does."
As in the novel, Gary Oldman's Smiley is haunted by a quiet melancholy, born not only of his job, but also of his personal life. Gary Oldman remarks, "One of the reviews for the book, I think it was in The Spectator, said that 'Smiley is a great spy but an inadequate man.' For his name to be Smiley - John le Carre is brilliant at coming up with names. John Le Carre describes Smiley as a rather short guy, unattractive, overweight; yet he told me, 'It's yours now. Make it what you will.'"
In speaking at length with the author, Gary Oldman also "took a few little things from watching John le Carre - which I think Alec Guinness may have done as well! I also ate a lot - custard, treacle sponge
I put on a bit of weight, a paunch."
After having briefly met with Tomas Alfredson early on to compare notes on the material and the character, Gary Oldman conferred with him regularly during pre-production. The director remarks, "We would have discussions about Smiley's silhouette, about if he were wearing a watch. We decided that he doesn't wear cufflinks, because that would express something."
In becoming Smiley from head to toe, Gary Oldman started at the top; disdaining a wig, the actor's own hair was bleached and highlights were weaved in. Silver rinses over the top were then added. Gary Oldman, Tomas Alfredson, and costume designer Jacqueline Durran conferred over just which would be the right pair of glasses for Smiley to wear throughout. Ultimately, Jacqueline Durran remembers, "Gary Oldman went and found this pair and brought them back to us in England. Tomas Alfredson loved them, so they became Smiley's. We had to have them duplicated in case something happened to the main set."
Tomas Alfredson confides, "Gary Oldman is open to ideas, but works very intuitively; he will say when something doesn't feel right. He is always prepared, so sometimes it felt like Gary Oldman was getting into Smiley all the time, and it was mind-blowing to see him at work."
Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays opposite Gary Oldman as Smiley's Circus colleague Peter Guillam, found him to be "so inclusive to other actors. There's nothing precious about what Gary does. "But we were doing this one scene, where Smiley is recalling a past encounter, and it became a very thin line for me not to fall over; Peter Guillam is enthralled, and I was mesmerised! Gary Oldmanwas completely inhabiting Smiley."
Gary Oldman reflects, "I've played many an extroverted character, so I loved portraying someone so still, so quiet. Smiley doesn't act out. In Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, he's part of a high-stakes chess game, one where everyone is intently watching how - or, if - another person is going to move." Who Might Be Who
Gary Oldman reveals, "The title of the story is taken from the name of a nursery rhyme: 'Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief.' Some of these are used to refer to the high-ranking men under suspicion. Just about everyone and everything has got a code name."
Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan accordingly retained many of the code names and monikers that John le Carre mapped out in his original novel. To name but a couple, there are the 'Mothers' in the typing den and the 'Scalphunters' out in the field. Casting the Circus ensemble around Gary Oldman as Smiley "wasn't that hard," says Robyn Slovo. "We had a great screenplay based on an iconic novel, with a great actor in the lead role. We got our first or second choices at every turn."
Tomas Alfredson adds, "We needed strong actors who could balance each other. I think we achieved that; when you see the Circus conference table with these guys gathered, well, it was like a candy shop for me as the director." Tim Bevan notes, "We had people coming to the table because these kinds of character roles aren't around so much in films these days. Actors want to play them."
At the top of the Circus is Smiley's friend and mentor, known only as Control, played by two-time Academy Award nominee John Hurt. Gary Oldman says, "I've admired John le Carre's work since before I became an actor. I loved every minute of being in his company."
John Hurt comments, "Control is not an enormous part. In fact, I call it the shortest leading part I've ever played. It is one, though, because it's central and what he knows - or suspects - about the mole gets carried through by Smiley right to the end of the film."
"Once Control becomes privy to the fact that there is a mole at the top of MI6 - a huge hole in his own outfit - it causes him great agony, because these are the people that he works with and this has been his life's work."
Even though Control is close to Smiley, he still counts his friend among the suspects. But in line with the rhyme, the lineup begins with 'tinker,' Percy Alleline.
Percy Alleline is able to wrest oversight of the Circus from Control, as a result of a botched mission - the ripple effect of which is gradually revealed during the course of the film. Toby Jones, cast as Percy Alleline, sees his character as, "to a certain extent, the vehicle for change, in the sense that his own ambition means that he seeks to reform the way that the Circus is organised. But every character in this film is potentially both a pawn and a knight, as it were. So while Percy thinks he's pushing, he's also being pulled.
"Percy lacks respect for the way in which things have been done previously at the Circus. He is that dangerous reforming spirit who appears to be without caution, and it's exactly that kind of spirit which can be conditioned and controlled by someone with malevolent intent. His weakness in his desire for power is exactly the kind of weakness that could be exploited."
The power shift atop the Circus that occurs early in the story benefits the personable Bill Haydon, portrayed by Academy Award winner Colin Firth. Given that Bill Haydon is better-attired than the other senior members of the Circus, he is the 'tailor' among the mole suspects. Colin Firth comments, "Haydon wields considerable power in dealing with foreign operations. He's very much looked up to by some of the younger members of the organisation, with hero worship. They're subscribing to his self-image; dashing, with a kind of glamour and rather cavalier - for example, he's the one who rides his bicycle into the office and through the typewriter pool. That's indicative of the confidence and flair that he operates with
"But all these characters are extremely lonely. I remember somebody misinterpreting John le Carre's work as 'boy's stuff without any emotion', and I think that couldn't be further from the truth. All of these men are highly trained, but their idealism has been bruised. Each of them is vulnerable in some way, and they're not particularly capable of intimacy. Even when they are, there is betrayal. Through it all, these are men that cannot afford to indulge their emotions."
The workmanlike Roy Bland, played by Ciaran Hinds, is tagged as 'soldier' by Control.
Ciaran Hinds sees Roy as being part of "this cabal who senses opportunity when the power balance suddenly shifts. With Control out, Roy is able to move forward and pursue his ideas more aggressively. He's direct, but he's also learned to play games.
"His colleagues are not aristocratic; I'd say they're middle-class or probably upper-class. Roy comes from a sort of working-class home. He's well-read and was able to get into a 'red-brick' university. I saw him as being motivated a lot by his father's ideas of politics, which would have been more radical, more left-wing. This serves him well in terms of making contacts in the Eastern Bloc."
Several names from the rhyme are not borrowed by Control for the suspects' IDs, in part to avoid confusion and in part because there are only so many suspects. Gary Oldman opines, "When Smiley discovers that he's on the list, I think his admiration for Control - which is already high - soars!"
The 'poor man' label is ascribed to Toby Esterhase, played by David Dencik. The character "allies himself with Percy Alleline, because he knows Percy's taking over with Control out," notes David Dencik. "Toby Esterhase seeks out what will be best for himself. He speaks several languages, he came over from Hungary, and he wants so much to integrate into British society.
"The Circus is very segregated; people very much hold information for themselves, or share it with some colleagues but not others. Toby Esterhase likes and respects Smiley, who helped him somewhat to get to where he is today."
While Toby Esterhase looms in the Circus' future, Connie Sachs lingers in its past; the lone female Circus player in the story, this former "Queen of Research" is one of the few people Smiley trusts, even though she is permanently out of the spy game by the time his investigation begins.
Kathy Burke, cast as Connie, clarifies, "She's still a smart cookie who doesn't miss a trick, and remains very into the Soviets and what they're up to and what they're about. She feels particularly close to Smiley, because she sees him as incredibly smart, and loyal. He's always treated her as an equal.
"Hearing that Control has been ousted devastates her, because she knows that it's the end of an era. She remembers when everybody was a team, and there was no fear that somebody amongst them could be working for the other side. She wants to remember everybody as they were, and I do think she was in love with a colleague at some point."
Connie is a particular favourite of many who have read John le Carre's book. While the screenplay adaptation - and Kathy Burke's portrayal - hew closely to the original conception, another character changed; the novel's Jerry Westerby is an Oxford graduate, but the movie's Jerry is not.
Stephen Graham, cast as Jerry, explains that "the character in this adaptation is from a working-class family background. This was done to show that there would have been people from Liverpool, people with different regional accents, in the SIS. The concept is that Jerry was bright and intelligent, and picked out early on by MI6." As the duty officer on-site at Circus headquarters on the night that a mission abroad goes bad, "Jerry is integral to the story because he receives the phone call that kicks off the whole chain of events - leading to Control's ouster and Smiley's, then Smiley's being rehired and investigating," reveals Stephen Graham.
Once reinstated and tasked with smoking out the mole, Smiley relies on Peter Guillam (pronounced "gwill-im") as his right-hand man. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the younger Intelligence officer, whom he sees as "heroic, in the sense that he very much subscribes to the Service as home. Peter Guillam has a great sense of esprit de corps; he genuinely believes in what the cause is. To him, it's clear-cut; fighting the Russians. This gives him certainty in what is a life of increasing uncertainty. But he has made sacrifices, as all these men have. "Peter Guillam exercises a great deal of charm and leverage within the Circus bureaucracy. We get to see how Peter Guillam is quick-thinking, pragmatic, and ruthlessly efficient; 'ruthlessly polite' is one of the John le Carre descriptions of him. His precision is enticing to Smiley, and there is a bond between the two of them."
Despite his youth relative to the other Circus principals, Peter Guillam is newly charged with overseeing the Scalphunting division of the Circus, which practices "a more visceral level of spying," according to the actor. "Scalphunters were people who would be sent to foreign climes with faked IDs, and they might go and do a one-off operation, assassination, or infiltration
possibly even hostage-taking."
Peter Guillam has assumed oversight of the Scalphunters after the failed Hungary mission which led to Control's ouster. Agent Jim Prideaux, who had headed the Scalphunters, barely survived the debacle, and has since been relocated into a placid new identity as a schoolteacher. "Once he's invalided out of the Service, there are few tears shed for Jim back at the Circus," notes actor Mark Strong of his character. "It's not that he's disliked; it's more to do with that protective quality which you had to develop - whether you were in the RAF or the SIS - so if a close friend was shot down or sent away, you just never really mentioned him again, largely because it was too difficult to bring up.
"Jim is very conscious of his sense of duty and service to his country; he would do the dirty work in the field and then come back to Circus headquarters, until he was sent out again. As a Scalphunter, he had to assume various identities in undercover work - and have more than one at the ready. He's a very erudite Englishman, but emotionally he's quite stunted."
Tim Bevan adds, "I do feel that all the characters probably end up wondering who they really are. But what you see with Jim Prideaux and another Scalphunter, Ricki Tarr [played by Tom Hardy], is both a glamour and a sadness. They're so active in the field, out in the world, yet the melancholy that flows through the film is particularly evident within them." Tinker Tailor Solider Spy Part 2 - www.femail.com.au/tinker-tailor-solider-spy-part2.htm