There’s an odd mystery brewing around Henry Cavill and Apple’s upcoming spy thriller Argylle, with multiple observers—including The Hollywood Reporter—noting that they can find no trace of the listed author of the book on which the film is based.
The author in question is reportedly Elly (or possibly Ellie) Conway, a first-time novelist who’s scored a deal to have her debut novel (about “a troubled agent with a tarnished past who may just have the skills to take on one of the most powerful men in the world”) turned into a $200 million movie by Apple. That’s especially noteworthy since the book isn’t even out yet, and won’t be until March 2023, just two months before the movie arrives on Apple TV+; instead, per director Matthew Vaughn, Conway sold the book on the strength of an “early draft manuscript.” Details about Conway themselves are incredibly minimal online: Nobody can find a trace of her, beyond a Penguin Books bio that simply lists her as “the author of the highly anticipated debut thriller Argylle,” and an empty Instagram page that uses the book’s cover as a logo. THR—as well as writer Josh Rosenberg, who wrote about this mystery back in March—both note that all involved, including her listed agent, have gotten very quiet, very quickly, when asked about Conway’s whereabouts or background.
It’s all especially notable because Apple is throwing a lot of money and talent at this project, with Cavill’s co-stars on the film including Sam Rockwell, Bryce Dallas Howard, Bryan Cranston, Catherine O’Hara, John Cena, Dua Lipa, Ariana DeBose, and Samuel L. Jackson, with Kingsman’s Vaughn directing. There’s even murmurings of a potential franchise, although the current deal with the studio is only for a single film.
It’s admittedly possible that everything here is on the up-and-up—that Conway sold the book on the strength of a very strong draft, but simply wants to keep out of the public eye while they finish their already mega-successful book. Books do get optioned before they’re finished with some regularity, although it’s usually non-fiction, and usually with a release date not so close to the release date of the film. We have no idea what the actual answer here is—Weird metafictional twist? Celebrity author pseudonym? Boring old reality?—but, really: What’s a spy thriller for if not a little conspiracy-minded thinking?