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Argylle: All Your Questions, Answered

Who is Elly Conway?

an image of all the main characters from Argylle standing next to each other
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  • Photo Credit: Apple Studios

At the beginning of the year, a new book was released into the world. This in itself was nothing noteworthy. New books come out every week, after all. But this was no ordinary release.  

Argylle was allegedly a debut from new author Elly Conway. But unlike most debuts, the book already had an immediate movie tie-in that was scheduled to be released mere weeks after the book. That isn’t unheard of, but it is unusual. Which got the internet asking: Who is Elly Conway? 

The speculation fueled the internet for weeks before answers came. But don’t worry if you missed it. We’re here to fill you in all everything you need to know about Argylle. 

What is Argylle about? 

Argylle is about what one Russian magnate would do to restore the “glory” of his nation—and how legendary CIA spy Frances Coffey must stop him.

But after the Russian sets off a series of potentially catastrophic events, it’s clear to Frances, she needs help. And only one agent might have the skills to pull the impossible off.

Can Agent Argylle battle his own inner demons from his tarnished past? Or will one powerful man destroy the world? 

We're going to find out.

Who wrote Argylle?  

According to the book’s biography, Argylle was written by Elly Conway. For a debut author to have some air of mystery is understandable. After all, most debuts are relatively unknown.

Readers interested in learning more typically turn to the author's bio and hope that the author will be out promoting the book and offering potential fans a glimpse into their backstory. And that’s where things turn interesting. 

To start, the author bio is missing entirely from Goodreads. There’s no author photo, no links to websites, newsletters, or author resources. Nothing to give readers any clues on who Elly Conway is. She does have a profile on Twitter and Instagram, but both have her profile picture set as a cup of coffee. 

On the Penguin Random House US site, the mystery only deepens. There, Conway is given a tiny bio, stating that she is the author of the book, that there is a movie tie-in, and that she lives somewhere in the US. 

The UK Penguin site gives us just a little more. There, we learn she was born and raised in the US and that she penned her debut “while working as a waitress in a late-night diner”.

Neither site offers an author photo. 

Given how elusive Elly Conway is and how much publicity the book was getting, it’s no wonder that readers began speculating that Conway was simply a pseudonym for a celebrity.

And with nothing more to go on, the internet gossip took off. 

Is Elly Conway actually Taylor Swift?  

The source of this connection largely stemmed from the movie trailer. And for good reason. It had an all-star cast, was scheduled to be released a few weeks after the book debuted, and the publicity was over-the-top.

None of that was normal for an unknown debut. But it was the similarities Swifties saw in the trailer that really fueled the speculation. 

For one, Bryce Dallas Howard was noted as seeming to embrace several of Taylor Swift’s features. Her wavy red hair was reminiscent of a wig Taylor wore to play a writer (much like the Elly Conway of the movie) in the short film, All Too Well: The Short Film. Conway’s first social media post was on December 13—Taylor’s birthday.

And the obvious connection with both Swift and Conway showing a love of cardigans. But the biggest clue was Conway’s cat, a Scottish Fold—same as Swift—who sits in a bubble-window backpack, the exact same backpack that appears in Swift’s Netflix documentary, Miss Americana. 

Swift is known to her fans as someone who plants clues and Easter eggs in her songs and videos, making it easy for them to connect the dots. The internet speculation was so rampant that eventually the truth about Conway was revealed. 

Who is Elly Conway?  

So, who is Elly Conway? We won’t bury the lede—it isn’t Taylor Swift. Washington Post writer Sophia Nguyen helped uncover the clues that eventually revealed Conway’s true identity. 

She started with the book’s acknowledgments. There, Conway thanked British astronomer Robert Massey for explaining star charts to her. One phone call to Massey confirmed what Nguyen suspected.

He spoke to an author contracted to write a spy thriller with Penguin Random House. But that author was not named Elly Conway. But when Nguyen called other businesses Conway tagged in social media posts, they all played along. 

One Redditor in particular named Terry Hayes, claiming an uncle in publishing revealed the truth in conversation. Another obvious choice was Matthew Vaughn himself. After all, he was publicly attached to the movie and would have the connections to make a pre-publication blockbuster a reality.  

Nguyen revealed that the name Massey gave her was for British thriller writer Tammy Cohen. When Nguyen and other reporters called Cohen and her literary agent, they did not respond.

Her agent, incidentally, is married to Stanley Tucci, who appears in another Vaughn film, The King’s Man. Cohen also had a social media post in February 2023 where she announced she was working on an exciting secret project. 

Another name presented by the media was writer Terry Hayes. Again, there’s a Matthew Vaughn connection as the director was once tied to Hayes’ I Am Pilgrim adaptation.

Vaughn also randomly brought up the author in an interview indicating that Hayes lamented on not having as much attention as Conway. The reference was strange and caught people’s ears. 

Thankfully, the internet didn’t have to wait in suspense forever. Two days before the movie's release, Conway posted a photo of Terry Hayes’ debut novel, I Am Pilgrim with the caption, “Going back to read Terry Hayes’ debut novel, so I’m fully booked for tonight.”

Then, on the day of the premiere, The Telegraph released an exclusive interview with both Terry Hayes and Tammy Cohen, where the pair admit to being approached by Vaughn to create a novel that tied in with a film already in production. 

Is the Argylle movie based on the book?  

The book and the movie act as companions, but the book is more about the activities of Agent Argylle where the movie focuses on the author herself, Elly Conway.

They tie in together, with one story supporting the other, but the two aren’t based directly on each other. 

What is the movie Argylle about?  

As we said above, the movie is about Elly Conway. In it, Conway is a reclusive author working on the fifth novel in the Agent Argylle spy series.

But things aren’t going so well. Elly has writer’s block.

She decides to pack up her cat and board a train, hoping a visit to her parents will unleash her creative flow. Except on the train, she’s saved from an attack by an actual spy.

On the run, Elly learns that her novels are so accurate she’s been targeted by a ruthless organization known as, “The Division”, hoping to use her knowledge for their evil deeds.

Their only hope is that she reveals a way to stop them in her upcoming, unwritten chapters. 

Who wrote the Argylle movie?  

In the early announcements of the film, writer Jason Fuchs (Ice Age: Continental Drift, Wonder Woman) was credited with writing the script.

We now know that Matthew Vaughn approached Terry Hayes after he was unable to proceed with the adaptation of I Am Pilgrim. He was working on Argylle and wanted the author to take a stab at writing a companion novel. But the author was working on another novel with an upcoming deadline.

So, the two brought in Tammy Cohen to help with the writing. 

Though the movie is solely credited to Fuchs, an interview with the writer indicates that Vaughn was hands-on with the vision of what kind of story he wanted told. Vaughn had taken his wife and daughters through cinema history during COVID lockdown by playing various movies from Hollywood’s past.

Struck by how his daughters were taken by Hitchcock’s classic North by Northwest, he decided to make a movie that captured the unexpected but extraordinary adventures of the film for them. 

Who stars in the movie Argylle?  

Given the all-star cast of the film, it’s no wonder the internet almost broke trying to figure out who Elly Conway was.

Henry Caville plays the titular Agent Argylle with Bryce Dallas Howard bringing the elusive Elly Conway to life. Sam Rockwell, Bryan Cranston, Dua Lipa, and John Cena feature throughout the film with Catherine O’Hara, Samuel L. Jackson, and Claudia Shiffer’s cat, Chip, making memorable appearances.

Even writer Jason Fuchs makes an appearance. 

Is Argylle a good movie?  

Overall, the movie has gotten lackluster reviews. It sits at 5.7/10 on IMDB, 33% on Rotten Tomatoes, and 35% on Metacritic. While viewers loved the cast and enjoyed their performances, the film didn’t manage to overcome some of the more implausible elements to become more than a silly, spy movie without substance.

For some, however, the silliness was all part of the charm.  

Argylle is a movie that doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously. It’s fun, over-the-top, and has plenty of twists and turns that may be slightly predictable but are still entertaining to watch.

There are elements of a romantic comedy, some fun action scenes, and a talented cast that doesn’t disappoint. Whether that all adds up to a movie that can overcome a bit of telling and some unbelievable twists is up to you. 

Where can I watch the Argylle movie?  

Argylle is currently available to watch on Apple TV+.

It’s also available to buy or rent on Amazon Prime Video, Fandago at Home, YouTube, and Google Play Movies.