It’s a Friday mystery! Henry Cavill has a new spy movie coming out—no, not James Bond, sorry—called Argylle. It’s coming from Apple TV+ sometime in 2023. It’s directed by Matthew Vaughn and adapted for the screen by Jason Fuchs (who has a story credit on Wonder Woman but also wrote Pan, yikes). Besides Cavill, the film also stars Ariana DeBose, Samuel L. Jackson, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Rockwell, Bryan Cranston, Catherine O’Hara, John Cena, Rob Delaney, and Dua Lipa making her feature acting debut. It’s a $200 million dollar movie with an A-list cast, an A-list director, backed by a prestige platform, and adapted from a novel. So what’s the mystery?
Argylle is based on the debut novel of Elly Conway, or Ellie Conway, a person with virtually no footprint in the world. Though the novel has not yet been released, Argylle, neon-named cast attached, spurred a bidding war earlier this year, which Apple won. It’s not unusual that first-time writers get big movie deals before their books even come out—T.J. Newman’s first novel, Falling, got seven-figure book and movie deals just a week apart. All the big agencies have literary desks to bring in books, magazine articles, and now podcasts for development deals. That part isn’t unusual. Nor does it set my smutty senses to tingling that Elly Conway’s book has been delayed till next year. I have an essay being published later this year in a book, it was originally planned for 2020, but like so many other things, book publishing is a mess of delays and shortages and supply chain issues.
What IS intriguing is that no one can find Ms. Conway. Her author page on Penguin’s UK site is brief, to say the least. Her name appears spelled as either Elly or Ellie in both Penguin Random House’s own internal reporting and in news reports about her movie deal. Her Instagram is nothing. When THR reached out to interview Conway, Ballantine Books, the imprint publishing Argylle, stopped responding. Curiouser and curious-ER.
Maybe she’s just shy! Maybe she has no desire to reap the fruits of her labor. Maybe she just wants to write, and not be perceived. Honestly, ideal. But if that were the case, why not just say so? Everyone loves an eccentric artist, especially those of the “please just leave me alone” persuasion. Just issue a statement that Ms. Conway isn’t interested in interviews and move on. But ending correspondence when an entertainment journalist asks to interview the first-time author whose book just closed a MASSIVE movie deal? That’s normal outreach, and no reason to run away. It’s the lack of answers bothering me. I can accept the notion of a novelist more interested in her privacy than fame, support it, even. But her publisher just shutting down when asked about an interview? With no prepared excuse on hand?
It reminds me of “Rebecca Blunt”, the first-time screenwriter behind Logan Lucky, who turned out to be Jules Asner, whose husband is Lucky’s director, Steven Soderbergh. People wanted to interview “Rebecca Blunt” in the run-up to Lucky’s release, but no one could ever reach her. Soderbergh insisted on talking about her as if she was real even as doubt mounted that such a person existed. Of course, Jules Asner is a real person, who used a pseudonym because she didn’t want to “distract from the narrative of the film”, which, okay. That doesn’t make a ton of sense as Asner had already proven her chops with her novel, Whacked, and if anything, turning out to be an equally talented screenwriter is a cool story unto itself and would have only added to the positive press of Logan Lucky, but whatever. Anyway, the flags are the same. A first-time writer no one can find, a persona no one can verify. Argylle certainly exists. Does Ellie Conway?
Attached - Dua Lipa out for dinner last night in Argentina.
Live long and gossip,