With Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, John Hurt, Tom Hardy, Toby Jones, and a host of other MVPs headlining the cast, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy — in theaters nationwide now — packs in more A-list British talent than a whole slate of Masterpiece Classics. But which guy is “Tinker,” and which snappy dresser earns the title of “Tailor”? We offer offer a cheat sheet to “Who’s Who” in the new thriller. Check out our gallery. (Sponsored Post – AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
Smiley, a career spy with razor-sharp senses, has been forcibly retired by the SIS, code-named the Circus. But with the Circus now compromised by a double agent, or mole, Smiley is rehired in secret at the government’s behest to uncover the truth. Smiley is portrayed by BAFTA Award winner Gary Oldman, who describes him as “mild-mannered, sagacious, and perspicacious. He has a prodigious memory, like a steel trap.”
Head of the Circus and mentor to George Smiley, Control, portrayed by Academy Award nominee John Hurt, is the first to suspect that there is a mole within the agency. Hurt says, “It’s a huge hole in his own outfit, and it causes him great agony.” After a mission he authorizes to uncover the mole fails, Control is forced out of the Circus. Now it’s left to Smiley to vindicate Control’s suspicions.
Connie Sachs is the resident expert on Moscow within the Circus. Shortly after George Smiley was forced out, she met a similar fate when her probing questions threatened to jeopardize the mole’s cover. One of the few people whom Smiley trusts, she manages to help him in his investigation despite being out in the cold. “He’s always treated her as an equal,” says actress Kathy Burke (Nil by Mouth). “She remains very into the Soviets and what they’re up to.”
Younger than the other Circus principals, Peter is George Smiley’s right-hand man within the agency in the secret hunt for the mole. But he may possess secrets of his own. Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) sees his character as “heroic, in the sense that he very much subscribes to the Circus as home, and pragmatic. His precision is enticing to Smiley, and there is a bond between the two of them. But Peter has made sacrifices.”
The Hungarian-born Esterhase has gained power at the Circus within the past year. “He wants so much to integrate into British society,” notes David Dencik (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). “He seeks out what will be best for himself.” Hired by Control while on the run in Vienna and having worked his way into the heart of the Circus, his ability to change sides marks him as “Poor Man,” a key suspect in the hunt for the mole.
The power shift atop the Circus benefits the personable Haydon, portrayed by Academy Award winner Colin Firth. “Haydon wields considerable power in dealing with foreign operations,” says Firth. “He’s looked up to by some of the younger members of the organization, with hero worship. But he cannot afford to indulge his emotions.” Better-attired than his colleagues, Haydon is the “Tailor” among the mole suspects.
From a working-class family background, the intelligent Jerry was hand-picked as a recruit by MI6 and installed on-site at the Circus. As Stephen Graham (Boardwalk Empire) reports, Jerry “receives the phone call that kicks off the whole chain of events – leading to George Smiley’s ouster, then Smiley’s being rehired and investigating” the mole suspects.
A maverick agent, Ricki (played by Tom Hardy of Inception) was working an undercover assignment in Turkey that went violently wrong. Accused of murder and hunted by the Circus, Ricki returns to the UK in secret with information vital to the safeguarding of the service. In return, he wants George Smiley to secure the release of Irina, the woman Ricki loves but has unwittingly betrayed.
Irina (played by Russian actress Svetlana Khodchenkova) is an unhappily married woman accompanying her delegate husband, Boris, on a trade mission to Istanbul. Undercover UK agent Ricki Tarr has been tasked with keeping Boris under surveillance, but against protocol he makes contact with Irina, concerned for her safety. Realizing his identity, Irina tells Ricki that she possesses crucial intelligence – which could impact Smiley’s hunt for the mole.
Devoted to his work, Bland is obsessed with the UK’s national security amidst the ongoing Cold War. Ciarán Hinds (The Debt) sees him as someone who “pursues his ideas aggressively. He’s direct, but he’s also learned to play games. He senses opportunity when the power balance at the Circus suddenly shifts.” The loyal Circus stalwart is appropriately tagged as “Soldier” on the list of mole suspects.
Percy is able to wrest oversight of the Circus from Control. Toby Jones (The Hunger Games) notes that “his own ambition means that he seeks to reform the way the Circus is organized. Percy is that dangerous reforming spirit who appears to be without caution. His weakness in his desire for power is exactly the kind of weakness that could be exploited.” As a consequence, Percy tops Control’s list of mole suspects.
Charged with monitoring the Circus, Lacon (played by Simon McBurney of Jane Eyre) is contacted by disgraced agent Ricki Tarr with information that the agency has been infiltrated by a Russian mole. Unable to trust anyone in the Circus, Lacon rehires George Smiley to investigate which of his former colleagues is betraying their country.
A dedicated Circus man, Jim does not hesitate when he is personally dispatched by service chief Control on a field mission into Budapest. But when Jim’s operation goes bloodily awry, the Circus is forced to disown him. Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes) says, “He’s a very erudite Englishman, but emotionally he’s quite stunted.”