The Good Shepherd: De Niro Uncovers the CIA
Robert De Niro and the CIA
Actor Robert De Niro's new movie The Good Shepherd [opening December 22, 2006] tells the story of the origin of the Central Intelligence Agency. De Niro, who produced, directed and acted in the film, says he wanted to include the CIA coup of Mossadegh but had to take it out due to space and budget limitations. The film's 160 minute run time was still not long enough to catalogue the CIA's crimes.
To add authenticity to the production, De Niro sought the consultation of veteran CIA official Milton Bearden, and even met with former KGB operatives in Moscow. Former UN ambassador Richard Holbrooke has also endorsed the film. The Los Angeles Times' Patrick Goldstein describes the lead role of Edward Wilson, played by Matt Damon, as "a composite of several top CIA hands, notably counterintelligence chief James J. Angleton; Frank Wisner, a key man in the 1953 overthrow of Iran's Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh; and Tracy Barnes, who helped organize the Bay of Pigs invasion."
The Good Shepherd (2006)
Cast: Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie, William Hurt, Billy Crudup, Alec Baldwin, Joe Pesci, Robert De Niro, Timothy Hutton, Keir Dullea, John Turturro
Executive Producer: Francis Ford Coppola
Director: Robert De Niro
On December 19, 2006, Robert De Niro and Matt Damon appeared at George Mason University for a taping of NBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews. They were joined at the GMU venue by former CIA officer Milton Bearden.
QUESTION FROM STUDENT: I was wondering if you ran into any classified barriers when you were developing your character and also working on the film?
DAMON: What type of barriers?
MATTHEWS: Top secret stuff you couldn’t use.
DAMON: Classified—actually, oh, there’s a mountain of research material for this movie because it’s a pretty well-documented time. there are a lot of biographies that have been written about people who were there at the beginning of the CIA, so there’s actually a lot of information. I’d actually taken a class in college about this, and had read some of these books and so I didn’t—I didn’t brush up against anything that hadn’t been declassified. I don’t know if you did?
DE NIRO: Yes.
MATTHEWS: And we really did overthrow the government in Guatemala, we really did overthrow the government in Iran. We did all that, right?
DE NIRO: Yes.
From The Good Shepherd's interactive Flash web site: a map of the world highlighting the various covert activities of the CIA.