Tinker,Tailor, Soldier, Spy

The Story

George Smiley, played by Gary Oldman, has been retired for about a year when he finds a friend from the Circus, his old outfit in British Intelligence, sitting in his living room. He is taken to the home of an intelligence advisor to the Prime Minister, where he finds evidence that one of the men in the senior ranks of his old agency, MI6, is a Russian spy.

Smiley is asked to find him, without official access to any of the files in the Circus or revealing that anyone is under suspicion. With only a few old friends, his own powers of deduction, and secrecy as weapons, Smiley must unearth the spy who turned him out of the Circus.

Gary Oldman as George Smiley

Colin Firth as Bill Haydon

Tom Hardy as Ricki Tarr

Cinema Trailer



Background to the Film

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a British thriller film based on the 1974 novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré. The film is directed by Tomas Alfredson, from a screenplay by Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan. It was produced through the British company Working Title Films and financed by France's StudioCanal


The project was initiated by Peter Morgan when he wrote a draft of the screenplay which he offered to Working Title Films to produce. Morgan dropped out as the writer due to personal reasons, but still served as an executive producer. Following Morgan's departure, Working Title Films hired Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan to redraft the script. This is the first English language film for Tomas Alfredson, who was confirmed as Director on 9 July 2009. The film was backed financially by France's StudioCanal and had a budget corresponding to US$ 30 million.


The director cast Gary Oldman in the role of George Smiley, and described the actor as having 'a great face' and 'the quiet intensity and intelligence that's needed'. Many actors were connected to the other roles at various points, but only days before filming started, Oldman was still the only lead actor who officially had been contracted. David Thewlis was in talks for a role at an early stage. Michael Fassbender was in talks at one point to star as Ricki Tarr, but the shooting schedule conflicted with his work on X-Men: First Class. Tom Hardy was cast instead. On 17 September 2010, it was confirmed that Mark Strong had joined the cast. Jared Harris was cast, but had to drop out because of scheduling conflicts with Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. He was replaced by Toby Jones.


Principal photography took place between 7 October and 22 December 2010 in London, Budapest and Istanbul. The production reunited Alfredson with cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema and editor Dino Jonsäter, with whom he had made his previous film, Let the Right One In.


The film premiered in competition at the 68th Venice International Film Festival on 5 September 2011. StudioCanal's British subsidiary, Optimum Releasing, was appointed to distribute the film in the UK, with a release date of 16 September 2011. American rights were acquired by Universal Pictures, which have a permanent first-look deal with Working Title, and which passed the rights to their subsidiary Focus Features, with a US release date of 9 December 2011.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was the cornerstone BBC drama of the late seventies, featuring a a rare TV performance by Sir Alec Guinness, later repeated in 1982's Smiley's People.

The supporting cast was equally as strong, with such as Ian Richardson and Michael Jayston adding lustre to an already stellar line-up.

Le Carre's books do not always translate successfully to the big screen: for every Spy Who Came In From The Cold, there's a Russia House. But the BBC series was an undoubted success, and the producers of the 2011 version have kept the same sense of mystery and tension that characterised the original.