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Betrayal of Both Colleague and Country
by WSJ Arts in Review Staff | Wall Street Journal | March 31, 2023
John Wick and Adonis Creed make bloody returns, Ted Lasso makes a benevolent one, documentaries revisit the disasters of Waco, Texas, and Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, Sally Hawkins finds the remains of Richard III, and much, much more.
Here’s a roundup of the month’s most noteworthy movies and TV shows, as covered by The Wall Street Journal’s critics.
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Mano o Mano
by J.P Devine | Morning Sentinel | March 30, 2023
I remember this story because I’m old. If you’re older than 60, you will as well, but at the time, here in America, you probably didn’t care. It was 1963, and the assassination of JFK was enough to deal with, and no one here even knew the rest of the world existed or cared.
But when this story “A Spy Among Friends,” taken from the book by Ben Macintyre, finally found space to let us think about it, we learned that MI6 (British CIA) and the notorious Kim Philby (Guy Pearce, “The Road”) had been a double agent for the Russians since his college years.
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by Gingersnap | damian-lewis.com | March 22, 2023
A Spy Among Friends has been nominated for a BAFTA TV Award as one of the very best TV mini-series of 2022. Other contenders in the same category are Mood, The Thief and This is Going to Hurt, which has received 6 nominations. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards will be hosted by Rob Beckett and Romesh Ranganathan and will take place on Sunday, May 14, 2023, and will be broadcast on BBC One and iPlayer at 7:00 p.m. The Awards are the biggest celebration of excellence across British and international television production and broadcasting. Congratulations to actors Guy Pearce, Anna Maxwell Martin and Stephen Kunken, Director Nick Murphy, Alexander Cary who created the series for television based off of Ben Macintyre’s book, and last but not least, Damian who served dual roles on the project: actor and executive producer through his Ginger Biscuit Entertainment.
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Lewis and Pearce Make For a Formidable Pairing
by Simon Thompson | Forbes | March 15, 2023
There is a simple explanation for why the story of Kim Philby, a British intelligence agent spying for the Russians, might seem familiar. The fascinating real-life tale has been the inspirational jumping-off point for countless characters in the genre, from books to movies.
In A Spy Among Friends, a limited series streaming on MGM+, Philby, played by Guy Pearce, takes center stage in his own right. Damian Lewis plays Nicholas Elliott, his friend and the man given the job of bringing the double agent to justice. It’s based on the Ben Macintyre’s New York Times NYT best-selling book.
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by Maggie Boccella | Collider | March 15, 2023
Imagine finding out your best friend of nearly thirty years had completely betrayed you and everyone else they loved, for the entirety of your friendship. That’s the concept behind MGM+’s newest thriller series, A Spy Among Friends, except the tensions are racketed to an all-time high: not only are Nicholas Elliott (Damian Lewis) and Kim Philby (Guy Pearce) friends, but also intelligence officers for the UK’s MI6, and Philby is one of the most notorious double agents in history, supplying information to the KGB.
A Spy Among Friends follows the two men in the aftermath of Philby being found out, and subsequently pursued, by British intelligence in the 1960s, flipping back and forth between the beginnings of Philby and Elliott’s friendship and the present, where Elliott is being questioned about his attempts to bring Philby into custody in Beirut, where he escaped and eventually defected to the Soviet Union. The truth is twisted and obscured as the series follows the two men throughout their lives, questioning just how much we can really trust those we hold dear.
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Why Alex Cary Cast Damian Lewis
by Caitlin Tyrrell | Screen Rant | March 13, 2023
A Spy Among Friends is based on Ben Macintyre’s best-selling book of the same name, which examines the true story of the most infamous double agent in the Cold War. The limited series, adapted for television by Alexander Cary, examines the friendship between Nicholas Elliot and Kim Philby both before and after Philby’s status as a KGB double agent was revealed. Following this revelation, Elliot met with Philby to gather information, but the double agent escaped to the Soviet Union.
Elliot was closely scrutinized after this by American and British intelligence agencies. While under investigation, Elliot attempts to discover any other KGB moles that are hiding in the British government. A Spy Among Friends features an impressive cast led by Guy Pearce, Damian Lewis, Anna Maxwell Martin, Adrian Edmondson, Stephen Kunken, Nicholas Rowe, and Anastasia Hille.
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Who Is Nick Elliott?
by Roxy Simons | Newsweek| March 12, 2023
Damian Lewis found making A Spy Among Friends with Guy Pearce a “surprising” experience, he told Newsweek, because of the intricacies of the real story the MGM+ drama is based on.
Lewis plays Nicholas Elliott, the best friend of Pearce’s Kim Philby, who is widely seen as one of the most notorious double agents in history. The British Intelligence agent was a member of the Cambridge Five, a spy ring that secretly fed information to the Soviet Union during World War II and the Cold War.
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Episode 1 Now Streaming for Free
by Gingersnap | damian-lewis.com | March 12, 2023
Per MGM+ website, A Spy Among Friends premieres tonight at 9:00 CST/10:00 EST, but episode one is available now for free. Episode two is in queue with subscription. Then remaining episodes drop each Sunday thereafter. Visit MGM+ here or add MGM+ to your Amazon Prime account.
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It’s a Role Lewis Plays Beautifully
by Daniel D’Addario | Variety | March 12, 2023
The story of Kim Philby is perhaps too good to make up. The British spy, a double agent for Moscow, operated at the highest levels of the intelligence community; his ability to disseminate information to the Soviet Union, to which he eventually defected, is proof, perhaps, of the power of personal charm and erudition to cover over what’s lying in plain sight.
That’s the powerfully told story of “A Spy Among Friends,” which streamed on ITVX in the United Kingdom last year and which now arrives on nascent streamer MGM+. Guy Pearce plays Philby, who has at the series’ outset been a valued Soviet source for many years; likely his closest friend in tradecraft, Nicholas Elliott (Damian Lewis), must get a confession from him. We see the pair’s relationship over time in layered flashbacks, adding context and understanding to Elliott’s failure to nail down Philby.
The story is adapted by Alexander Cary from Ben Macintyre’s novel, which embroiders on the real-life Philby and Elliott’s tale; it’s rather a clever thing to use likely the most infamous real-life British espionage scandal as the backbone of a John Le Carré-esque tale. The story is told through Elliott’s recollections: Anna Maxwell Martin plays a fictional interrogator who walks through the story of Elliott and Philby’s relationship, and who brings a crystalline level of distrust and disdain to her work. Among the pleasures of “A Spy Among Friends” is the spectacle of Elliott’s performing for the woman scrutinizing him, adding shading and dimension to his memories.
For what passed between Philby and Elliott is perhaps unknowable even to the men themselves — how, indeed, could a spy as experienced as Elliott let Philby slip away? Part of it, “A Spy Among Friends” argues, is the dynamic nodded at by the title: The clubby and parochial world of intelligence ran on social connections, befitting a culture undergirded by endless unwritten codes of what is socially appropriate.