A Spy Among Friends, which premiered March 12 on MGM+, dramatizes the story of two British spies and lifelong friends, Nicholas Elliott and Kim Philby. The six-episode limited series stars Golden Globe- and Emmy-winning actor Damian Lewis (Homeland), Emmy winner Guy Pearce (Mare of Easttown), and Anna Maxwell Martin (Motherland).
We caught up with Maxwell Martin (who plays MI5 agent Lily Thomas), writer and executive producer Alexander Cary, and director Nick Murphy to learn more.
Can you tell us more about ‘A Spy Among Friends’?
Maxwell Martin: Over and above sort of spying, it’s about a very intimate relationship between two men and the way that friendship is tested—and many other peripheral relationships, including my character Lily Thomas (a member of the UK domestic intelligence agency MI5) and Damian Lewis’ character, Nicholas Elliott, a British intelligence agent. It’s about two polar opposites and where they find a middle ground when they never expected to.
Is this based on a true story?
Murphy: Yes, it's based on The New York Times best-selling book by Ben Macintyre about Nicholas Elliott—at the point when it was discovered that [his friend] Kim Philby was the greatest Soviet spy ever to hide in British intelligence. He was there for 33 years, working for the Russians, but when it was discovered that he was a spy, the intelligence service sent his best friend out to Beirut to interrogate him. Four days later, Philby was allowed to escape.
You have an amazing cast. What was it like on set?
Murphy: The mood was always light. Damian is a good laugh. Anna is a terrific laugh. There was great joviality from Guy. However, there's no denying that the scenes get very, very intense. There were moments you could cut the atmosphere with a knife. The performances are incredible.
What are you hoping audiences come away with?
Cary: What I'm hoping that they'll come away with is an immersion into a very intense aftermath of a friendship. I also hope that they will be immersed in the cinematic genius of this gentleman [Nick Murphy]—it's beautiful.
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