Keira Knightley is set to star as Katharine Gun in a biopic about the life of the GCHQ whistleblower who exposed an illegal U.S. intelligence operation that ended up costing her career.
The film is titled Official Secrets, and will be helmed by Gavin Hood (Eye In The Sky, Tsotsi). Matt Smith is set to co-star alongside Knightley, who takes over from Natalie Dormer who was previously attached to the role when the film was set to be directed Justin Chadwick.
The story will begin in 2003 when Gun was working as a Mandarin translator at GCHQ, the British government’s communication agency. It was there she received a confidential email from the NSA requesting her help in a secret and illegal operation to bug the United Nations offices of six nations: Angola, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chile, Guinea, and Pakistan.
These countries were the swing nations that could determine whether the UN approved the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Outraged by the email, Gun showed it to a colleague who passed it on to a reporter for The Observer, where it made the front page.
Gun was arrested and later charged with breaking the Official Secrets Act, although the case against her was dropped after the prosecution declined to offer any evidence. Many speculate this is because a trial would have exposed documents about the war and its questionable legality.
This is obviously a fascinating true story that has all the components in place for a great film adaptation. This will be a slightly different role for Knightley compared to her recent work, but it should be a fascinating character that she will inhabit.
You’d think it would be pretty hard to screw up a film that has this much real life intrigue at the heart of it, but we’ve been disappointed before. Hopefully Official Secrets can do its real life protagonist justice with a memorable film.