British actor Johnny Flynn stars as Ian Fleming in the new film, Operation Mincemeat (2022) from Warner Bros. Pictures.
Based on the book, Operation Mincemeat: The True Spy Story that Changed the Course of World War II by Ben MacIntyre, Operation Mincemeat tells the true story of the successful military deception operation devised by Britain during the Second World War, to disguise the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943.
Mincemeat, part of the wider Operation Barclay, was based on the 1939 “Trout Memo” written by Rear Admiral John Godfrey, the Director of the Naval Intelligence Division and his personal assistant, Lieutenant Commander Ian Fleming.
In the film, Fleming (Johnny Flynn) provides the narration for the story, and assists Intelligence Officer Ewen Montagu (Colin Firth) and Flight Lieutenant Charles Cholmondeley (Matthew Macfadyen) in planning the operation, which involves planting a corpse – complete with fake documents and backstory – off the coast of Spain, with the aim of duping the Germans into believing that the Allies planned to invade Greece and Sardinia, and not Sicily.
Speaking to Yahoo, Flynn says that there are very few photographs or recordings from Fleming’s life prior to the 1953 publication of the first James Bond novel, Casino Royale.
“There was a fun bit of bridge building and imagining of that person who became very famous and trying to consider who that person was as a young man. For me, a lot of the clues actually lay in the Bond films and the Bond books. I feel like Bond is almost an idealised version of what Fleming was during the war.”
Flynn adds, “He gave him the same rank and he’s in intelligence and all that. I think you can imagine Bond as the kind of macho version of the slightly geekier person that Fleming actually was. It was a really fun character to play, especially with all of the Bond nods and references in the film.”
On why he wanted to play Fleming, Flynn tells the Radio Times, “I’m a huge fan of spy thrillers and films, you know – early Bond films, basically,” adding that it was “a huge thrill to reference that stuff, to have the scenes in Q branch, and it was just fun to learn his real story, to learn that he was really there. I went back and read some of the Bond novels and had fun realising that a lot of that stuff was informed by his experience of the world.”
Throughout the film, there are numerous nods to key elements in the James Bond films, including a scene in which Fleming visits the real-life Q Branch and muses over the gadget potential of a wristwatch.
On whether or not he would be interested in playing the role of James Bond, Flynn tells Yahoo that, he doesn’t think he would be ideally suited for the role, and says that “I think it’s such a difficult topic because there’s probably some big conversations and decisions to have about what sort of person that should be. I don’t even want to go there because it feels like a poisoned chalice. I think it’s not for me to say.”
‘Operation Mincemeat’ will be released in Australian cinemas on 12 May, 2022.