Matthew Vaughn's "Argylle" stars Bryce Dallas Howard as an author named Elly Conway.
The film is based on a book written by a supposedly real-life author named Elly Conway.
Vaughn recently shut down the theory that Taylor Swift is the author.
"Argylle" stars Bryce Dallas Howard as Conway, an author who gets embroiled in a real-life action mission that mirrors her best-selling book series about espionage.
The film is an adaptation of a recently published book of the same name by a writer also named Elly Conway, who doesn't appear to have a substantial or believable internet footprint.
The identity of the author has been a mystery since the movie was announced, with many believing Conway to be a pseudonym. Here's what you need to know about the elusive writer.
Very little is known about Conway
Conway's debut novel caught the eye of Vaughn before it was even published.
According to the film's production notes, Vaughn was intrigued after receiving a manuscript of Conway's unpublished spy novel. He and screenwriter Jason Fuchs decided to make a fictional version of Conway the main character in their film.
"When I read this early draft manuscript I felt it was the most incredible and original spy franchise since Ian Fleming's books of the '50s," Vaughn said. "This is going to reinvent the spy genre."
Deadline reported that the movie would be "the first of at least three films in the franchise." The supposedly real-life author's name was also spelled Ellie, not Elly.
The following month, Apple Original Films secured the rights to the movie after a reported $200 million deal.
An unknown author's first published novel getting this much attention was suspicious to many.
Conway's novel was published by Bantam Books and Penguin Random House in early January. The author's official bio offers little information about who the writer is, and it does not include any photos of Conway.
"Elly Conway is the author of the debut thriller 'Argylle,' the inspiration for the upcoming film of the same name. She lives somewhere in the United States," the bio on the Penguin Random House website reads.
The description on the UK version of the site is similarly vague but claims that Conway is a New Yorker.
"Elly Conway was born and raised in upstate New York. She wrote her first novel about Agent Argylle while working as a waitress in a late-night diner," the bio reads.
Investigations by The Hollywood Reporter, Vanity Fair, and the Washington Post turned up dry, with no concrete insights. The Washington Post also pointed out that an early version of the book included British spellings and terminology — suspicious for a writer who's supposedly from New York.
Some people on Reddit who claim to have connections to the book publishing industry said that Terry Hayes is the real writer of "Argylle." Vaughn was previously set to direct an adaptation of Hayes' spy novel "I Am Pilgrim," but he was later replaced by James Gray.
Vaughn recently denied a theory that Conway is Taylor Swift
If you haven't closely followed the speculation about the author, this theory may be relatively new. However, fans have speculated that Swift wrote the book under the pseudonym.
The reasoning goes that this is far from the first time Swift has used a pseudonym: she's been credited as a producer and songwriter under the name Nils Sjöberg. Plus, she's known for sneaking clues into her music videos and social media posts.
Coincidentally, Conway's first Instagram post was shared on December 13, 2022 — Swift's birthday.
Howard's red hair also resembles that of the writer played by Swift in her 2021 "All Too Well" short film. The musician previously sold an argyle sweater on her merch website, and the Scottish Fold cat featured in "Argylle" looks like Swift's cat, Meredith Grey.
The "Argylle" team fanned the flames of speculation when they used Swift's lyrics in social media posts about the film.
The director said that his daughter made him aware of the Swift theory, but the "Wildest Dreams" singer "definitely didn't write the book."
"There is a real book … and it's a really good book," he said. "And there is an Elly Conway who wrote the book, but it's not Taylor Swift."
Vaughn said that the only thing he credits Swift with is Chip, the cat that belongs to him and his wife Claudia Schiffer. Vaughn told Rolling Stone that his kids convinced Schiffer to get a Scottish Fold after watching Swift's 2020 Netflix documentary "Miss Americana." Chip also stars in "Argylle," playing Alfie, the loyal companion of the fictional Conway.
Vaughn also spoke about the unknown author at the film's London premiere, telling Variety that there is a Conway, but it's not Swift.
"I am begging Elly Conway to come out of the shadows because this Taylor Swift thing freaked me out. And it's going to happen," he said.
The real Elly Conway was revealed on Friday
On the day of the film's release, the Telegraph exclusively shared that the "Argylle" book was written by two authors: Terry Hayes, who was previously mentioned by Redditors, and Tammy Cohen, a British author.
Prior to filming the movie, Vaughn asked Hayes if he could write a companion novel focused on Agent Argylle. Because Hayes was preoccupied with his book "The Year of the Locust," Cohen was brought in as a coauthor.
"Argylle" hits theaters on Friday, February 2.
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