Edit
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) Poster

Trivia

Jump to: Cameo (1) | Spoilers (5)
To prepare for his role as Peter Guillam, Benedict Cumberbatch went to the Moroccan town of Essaouira, where Guillam had been stationed in the story: "It's got a slightly nightmare quality; I was wandering around the streets at night, thinking what it must be like to know that every turn could be my last."
In one of the flashback scenes Control is speaking on the phone, on the desk behind him are two bulldogs draped in the Union Jack. These figurines were created by Royal Doulton during World War II to represent Patriotism. In Skyfall (2012), M (Judi Dench), the head of MI6, has the same Royal Doulton bulldog on her desk.
Gary Oldman described Tomas Alfredson as taking a near-voyeuristic approach, by shooting with long lenses: "It was as if he was eavesdropping, like a peeping Tom, which is what you sort of want for a spy film."
The title of the film and its source novel is taken from an English children's rhyme 'Tinker, Tailor' that reads: "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor, Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief".
Connie Sachs' line about feeling "under-fucked" was allegedly originally spoken to John le Carré by W.H. Auden.
In a long career spanning thirty years at the time of the 2012 Oscar nominations, this movie represented actor Gary Oldman's first ever Academy Award nomination for acting (Best Actor).
Tomas Alfredson had John le Carré write part of the dialogue for the Circus conference: "When we rehearsed it, it felt as if Bill Haydon should say something, but what would he say? Well, why not call John le Carré and see if he's in? And we called him and we described the situation. He thought for 15 seconds and he said, grab a pen, here it is! It was a fantastic moment." Colin Firth jokingly suggested a velvet cushion for the paper on which the line was written.
Benedict Cumberbatch describes his role as Peter Guillam as the ultimate acting exercise: "I've always wanted to play a spy - you are NEVER what you seem."
The filmmakers searched for 18 months to find the right actor to play George Smiley. They were on the point of canceling the film before producer Tim Bevan thought of Gary Oldman.
Tomas Alfredson based the environment on his first impressions of London when he first visited the town in the 1970s: a brown and gray palette, shadows and uncovered light-bulbs, and dirty streets. "If you see London now and at that time, it's two different cities. Today it's a white city; then it was black; it was so dirty, and you could still feel the War all around."
As this movie is about the uncovering of an infiltrator into the British Secret Service and the director's previous film was called 'Let the Right One In' [Let the Right One In (2008)], this film was jokingly referred to as 'Get the Wrong One Out'.
Michael Fassbender was originally cast as Ricki Tarr, but he had to back out because he was busy filming X-Men: First Class (2011) and was replaced by Tom Hardy.
The filmmakers consider this film's version of George Smiley as the most emotional one yet: "You see a wilder person inside Gary's eyes; he can probably be crueler, maybe even more melancholic. He's a man presenting himself one way, yet internally there's a great sadness..."
The hands of the optician adjusting the equipment during Smiley's eye exam belong to Alfie Oldman, Gary Oldman's son.
To prepare for the role of George Smiley, Gary Oldman ate a lot of treacle sponge and custard to "put on a bit of middle-aged tummy". Oldman also watched Sir Alec Guinness's performance in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1979), and paid a visit to Smiley's creator John le Carré: "The way he touched his shirt, spoke and so on, I took all that and used it. I hope he won't mind, but Smiley is in his DNA."
Gary Oldman went to Old Focals, an eyeglass store in Pasadena, to search for the right glasses to fit George Smiley: "Glasses are funny things. For Smiley, they're iconic. It's like Bond's Aston Martin or vodka martini." Oldman tried on hundreds of glasses frames before he found the appropriate spectacles.
The text Guillam recites when testing the bug is Felicia Hemans' 1826 poem "Casabianca".
Producer Tim Bevan recommended Tom Hardy for the role of Ricki Tarr, stating he resembled a younger Robert Redford.
The film is dedicated to screenwriter Bridget O'Connor, who completed work on the film before her passing away from cancer.
Gary Oldman based his performance as George Smiley on a line from the 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' novel: "George is like a swift, Ann once told Haydon in George's hearing. He lowers his temperature until it's the same as the room around it. Then he doesn't lose heat by adjusting." Tomas Alfredson further compared Smiley to a turtle, "because the turtle has so much of its body hidden inside a shell; it is fixed, and it doesn't have a lot of different expressions."
This is Tomas Alfredson's first English film.
John le Carré's 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' novel, was based on the uncovering, during the 1950s and 60s, of the Cambridge Five traitors who were KGB moles working within the SIS. It is the first book in le Carré's Karla or Quest for Karla Trilogy, the second and third parts being 'The Honourable Schoolboy' (1977) and 'Smiley's People' (1979).
Writer John le Carré partially based his famous George Smiley character on a friend, the Lincoln College tutor and Oxford University don, the Reverend Vivian Green. Smiley was also based on le Carré's boss at Mi5, Lord Clanmorris, who wrote crime novels under the pseudonym of John Bingham.
George Smiley first appears seven minutes into the film, and although he appears repeatedly in the following minutes, he does not speak his first line until nineteen minutes into the film. That line is, "I'm retired now, remember. You fired me."
John Hurt was an early choice for George Smiley in pre-production, but he was later given the role of Control.
Tim Bevan cited the thrillers The Conversation (1974) and The Conformist (1970) as a visual influence on the film.
Gary Oldman was offered a gray-haired wig to wear for his role, but declined it in favour of bleaching his hair for a more natural hairdo for a middle-aged persona like Smiley.
The Swedish song heard in Control's first scene is "Land, du välsignade" (Blessed Country) sung by Jussi Björling. The director Tomas Alfredson is Swedish; however the song also serves as an indication of Control's patriotism.
The film took six months to edit.
David Thewlis and Ralph Fiennes were considered for roles.
Roger Lloyd Pack (Mendel) was in Only Fools and Horses.... (1981) with Michael Jayston who played Guillam in the 1979 BBC television version of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1979) and Tom Hardy (Tarr) was in Star Trek: Nemesis (2002) with Patrick Stewart who portrayed "Karla" in the same TV adaptation.
Gary Oldman is the fifth actor to play George Smiley in film and television. His predecessors include Rupert Davies who was the first in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965); James Mason in The Deadly Affair (1966) where Smiley was renamed Charles Dobbs; Sir Alec Guinness played him twice in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1979) and Smiley's People (1982) whilst Denholm Elliott was the last person to play Smiley twenty years earlier in A Murder of Quality (1991).
John le Carré based the character of Karla (played by Michael Sarne) on the KGB's Major General Rem Krassilnikov who was a counter-intelligence spy for the KGB's State Security Committee.
Peter Morgan wrote a draft for the screenplay and was going to write the final draft, but he gave up that assignment due to the death of a family member. He remains executive producer on this film.
Jared Harris was originally cast as Percy Alleline, but he had to back out due to scheduling conflicts with Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) and was replaced with Toby Jones.
The word processor seen at the Circus office is a Wang 1200 model.
Filming took place at a disused army barracks in North London, a location much cheaper and affording wider space for the set designers than renting buildings in London for filming. The barrack's corridors and alcoves were used for interior shots, and the side of a building was 'dressed up' as a Wimpy bar.
In the 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' novel, Jim Prideaux's mission took place in Czechoslovakia; in the film the mission takes place in Hungary. The change in location was because Hungary offers a 20% tax reduction for film productions.
Third 'John Le Carre' filmed adaptation to be nominated for Academy Awards. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965) was nominated for two Oscars whilst The Constant Gardener (2005) was nominated for three, winning one.
Second filmed adaptation of a John le Carré novel to have a score composed by Alberto Iglesias. His first was for The Constant Gardener (2005). Both scores were Oscar nominated.
First appearance by novelist John le Carré in a filmed adaptation of his work since The Little Drummer Girl (1984). His cameo appearance in this movie is only the second time he has appeared in a filmed adaption of one of his books.
Source author John le Carré included 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' as one of his four best novels during an interview on 5 October 2008 on BBC Four. The other best works he selected were 'The Spy Who Came in from the Cold', 'The Tailor of Panama' and 'The Constant Gardener'.
This movie remake was made and released thirty-two years after the renowned TV series Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1979), just under thirty years after its sequel Smiley's People (1982) and thirty-seven years after the 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' novel was first published in 1974.
First ever theatrical remake of a John le Carré story. During the 1970s, there were two versions of the same le Carré made-for-television, they being Endstation (1973) and Armchair Theatre: The End of the Line (1970).
The letters addressed to George Smiley's wife, Lady Ann, show the address as 18 Asherton Street, Islington, N1. In the books, Smiley famously lived off the Kings Road, at (No 9) Bywater Street, Chelsea, SW3.
John le Carré based the character of Connie Sachs (played by Kathy Burke) on Millicent Jessie Eleanor Bagot, a Sovietologist and British Intelligence spy.

Cameo 

John le Carré:  author of the 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' novel, appears as a slightly drunken guest at the Christmas party.

Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

In the 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' novel, Peter Guillam was in a relationship with a female musician named Camilla. In the film he is a homosexual in a relationship with a man, according to Benedict Cumberbatch a creative decision that works well within the film: "Sexuality was a very powerful tool then. Guillam keeps his homosexuality secret because he is so open to blackmail; it necessitates a certain amount of secretiveness, which goes hand in hand with spying."
The chess pieces Control uses in the film are: Karla as a white queen; Alleline (Tinker) as a white rook; Haydon (Tailor) as a white bishop; Bland (Soldier) as a black king; Esterhase (Poorman) as a black knight; and Smiley (Beggarman) as a black queen. Later on, Smiley uses Polyakov as a black bishop. Using the same piece for Smiley and Karla hints at their mastermind status and rivalry (the queen is the most powerful piece in chess); using the same piece for Haydon and Polyakov hints at their connection.
To prepare for his role as Bill Haydon, Colin Firth reviewed footage of Kim Philby's 1955 press conference. In this conference, held after the defection of the British traitors Donald MacLean and Guy Burgess, Philby vehemently denied that he was a traitor... seven years later he fled to Moscow. "You can see the tremendous tension in his body language and in his facial expression, but he cannot hide the sense of mischief."
The French song heard in the film's closing scenes is "La Mer", sung by Julio Iglesias. This song was chosen by the filmmakers because they thought it was a song George Smiley would listen to when he was alone; Tomas Alfredson described the song as "everything the world of MI6 isn't."
John le Carré based the character of Bill Haydon (played by Colin Firth) on Cambridge Five double-agent Harold Adrian Russell "Kim" Philby.

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

Contribute to This Page