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“Russia Has Never Been More Topical”
by Stephen Schaefer | Boston Herald | March 12, 2023
“A Spy Among Friends,” streaming Sunday on MGM+, reflects on a key chapter in post-WWII espionage history when the Cambridge Five, a quintet of Cambridge University graduates, were exposed as Russian spies.
The most notorious and most damaging, guilty of a thousand deaths, was British MI6 officer Kim Philby, a double agent for the Soviets. He served in postwar Washington, DC and cleverly escaped exposure in the early 1950s when two of his fellow Cambridge spies defected to Moscow.
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Damian Grapples with Friendship, Betrayal and Producing in MGM+ Drama
by Charna Flam and Katie Reul | Variety | March 10, 2023
Following Sony’s “A Spy Among Friends” premiere and red carpet in New York, the cast and crew of “A Spy Among Friends” took to the stage to discuss the process of differentiating the series from the 2014 nonfiction book by author Ben Macintyre about one of Britain’s most notorious espionage scandals. Alexander Cary, showrunner and creator of the Sony Pictures Television series for MGM+, was joined by star Damian Lewis, director Nick Murphy and producer Chrissy Skinns.
Moderated by Variety’s TV business writer Jennifer Maas, the conversation began with Lewis’ reflection on why the series was the right opportunity to make his debut as an executive producer. Best known for his starring roles in Showtime’s “Billions” and “Homeland” and the 2001 HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers,” the Emmy winner tried his hand at a behind-the-screen job on the series, working with fellow executive producers Cary, Murphy, Macintyre, Bob Bookman, Alan Gasmer, Peter Jaysen and Patrick Spence.
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Who Would Make the Better Secret Agent?
by Kate Hahn | TV Insider | March 10, 2023
Damian Lewis, who won an Emmy for playing Marine double agent Nicholas Brody on Homeland, is back in the spy game as a patriot in MGM+‘s A Spy Among Friends, a tense adaptation of Ben Macintyre’s nonfiction bestseller.
Lewis is a reserved British intelligence man, Nicholas Elliott, who discovers that his best friend and colleague, the witty, charismatic Kim Philby (Guy Pearce) is a traitor. The case, which broke in the early 60s after Philby had spied for 30 years, became notorious in the U.K.
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A Show That Makes You Question All Your Relationships
by Mark Kennedy | Washington Post | March 10, 2023
NEW YORK (AP) — A main character in “A Spy Among Friends” is one of the Soviet Union’s most notorious double agents. But you don’t need to know anything about him — or really about spying in general — to enjoy the show.
The MGM+ series starring Damian Lewis and Guy Pearce dramatizes the true story of two British spies and lifelong friends, Nicholas Elliott (Lewis) and Kim Philby (Pearce.) The latter became a notorious British defector. But it’s the personal betrayal that the creators hope to explore, not stolen microfilm or dead drops.
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A Tremendous Restraint and Delicacy to Lewis’ Performance
by Shane Ryan | Paste Magazine | March 10, 2023
If you are, like me, intermittently obsessed with the business of espionage, the name Kim Philby holds a sort of ineffable mystique in the darkest corners of your brain. Philby was the most notorious of the Cambridge Five, a group of British intelligence operatives who betrayed their country in ways big and small by spying for the Soviets from the 1930s through World War II, and in some cases well into the Cold War. Philby rose the highest, and caused the most damage and sacrificed the most lives—at one point, he was the chief British intelligence officer in the U.S.—and what’s most remarkable about his story is not his ideology, or his treason, but the fact that he should have been caught decades before he fled to the USSR.
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A Nuanced, Finely Acted Cold War Series on MGM+
by John Anderson | Wall Street Journal | March 9, 2023
The six-part espionage drama “A Spy Among Friends” opens with a well-known quote from novelist E.M. Forster, which blooms enigmatic as the series rolls out: “If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.” By the end of episode 1, one would like to say to Forster, “Define friend.”
You can’t (he died in 1970), but Forster’s intent seems to have been straightforward enough. Not so the series, which amid all its intrigue, double meanings, double-entendres and double-dealing is about friendship and its slippery definitions. As a screen card proclaims at the outset of creator-writer Alexander Cary’s expansive adaptation, the period thriller is based on Ben Macintyre’s nonfiction book of 2014, but is itself “a work of imagination” in which names have been changed, scenes invented, etc. Nevertheless, it hews very closely to the true-crime case of infamous British double-agent Kim Philby (Guy Pearce), his close friend Nicholas Elliott (Damian Lewis), and Philby’s epic betrayal of both colleagues and country.