Director: Tomas Alfredson
Stars: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy
Plot: In the early 1970s during the Cold War, the head of British Intelligence, Control, resigns after an operation in Budapest, Hungary goes badly wrong. It transpires that Control believed one of four senior figures in the service was in fact a Russian agent - a mole - and the Hungary operation was an attempt to identify which of them it was. Smiley had been forced into retirement by the departure of Control, but is asked by a senior government figure to investigate a story told to him by a rogue agent, Ricky Tarr, that there was a mole.
In a long career spanning thirty years at the time of the 2012 Oscar nominations, this movie represented actor Gary Oldman's first ever Academy Award nomination for acting (Best Actor).
The filmmakers searched for 18 months to find the right actor to play George Smiley. They were on the point of canceling the film before producer Tim Bevan thought of Gary Oldman.
The title of the film and its source novel is taken from an English children's rhyme 'Tinker, Tailor' that reads: "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor, Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief".
To prepare for the role of George Smiley, Gary Oldman ate a lot of treacle sponge and custard to "put on a bit of middle-aged tummy". Oldman also watched Sir Alec Guinness's performance in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1979), and paid a visit to Smiley's creator John le Carré: "The way he touched his shirt, spoke and so on, I took all that and used it. I hope he won't mind, but Smiley is in his DNA."
Michael Fassbender was originally cast as Ricki Tarr, but he had to back out because he was busy filming X-Men: First Class (2011) and was replaced by Tom Hardy.
To prepare for his role as Peter Guillam, Benedict Cumberbatch went to the Moroccan town of Essaouira, where Guillam had been stationed in the story: "It's got a slightly nightmare quality; I was wandering around the streets at night, thinking what it must be like to know that every turn could be my last."
The film is dedicated to screenwriter Bridget O'Connor, who completed work on the film before her passing away from cancer.
John le Carré based the character of Karla (played by Michael Sarne) on the KGB's Major General Rem Krassilnikov who was a counter-intelligence spy for the KGB's State Security Committee.
This is Tomas Alfredson's first English film.
Source author John le Carré included 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' as one of his four best novels during an interview on 5 October 2008 on BBC Four. The other best works he selected were 'The Spy Who Came in from the Cold', 'The Tailor of Panama' and 'The Constant Gardener'.
John le Carré, author of the 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' novel, appears as a slightly drunken guest at the Christmas party.
To prepare for his role as Bill Haydon, Colin Firth reviewed footage of Kim Philby's 1955 press conference. In this conference, held after the defection of the British traitors Donald MacLean and Guy Burgess, Philby vehemently denied that he was a traitor... seven years later he fled to Moscow. "You can see the tremendous tension in his body language and in his facial expression, but he cannot hide the sense of mischief."
In the 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' novel, Peter Guillam was in a relationship with a female musician named Camilla. In the film he is a homosexual in a relationship with a man, according to Benedict Cumberbatch a creative decision that works well within the film: "Sexuality was a very powerful tool then. Guillam keeps his homosexuality secret because he is so open to blackmail; it necessitates a certain amount of secretiveness, which goes hand in hand with spying."
John le Carré based the character of Bill Haydon (played by Colin Firth) on Cambridge Five double-agent Harold Adrian Russell "Kim" Philby.