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Argylle: Who is the writer whose novel is behind Henry Cavill's upcoming spy thriller?

Who is Elly Conway turns out to be a question at the heart of the new movie

Image credit: Apple TV+

Who is Elly Conway?

There is a lot of confusion — and a small level of controversy — surrounding just who came up with Argylle, the new project from Kick-Ass and Kingsman director Matthew Vaughn. Officially, the project is an adaptation of a yet-to-be-published debut novel by an unknown writer named Elly Conway… but, two years after the project was officially announced, the book has yet to appear, and Conway herself remains as much of a mystery as she did when her name was first released.

Officially, the release of the Argylle novel has been pushed back multiple times since the world first learned of its existence in June 2021. At that point, the novel was scheduled for a September 29 2022 release, before getting moved to March 30, 2023. It’s since been pushed out again, and is now anticipated to arrive January 9, 2024. That would be odd enough — what book is complete enough to be optioned ahead of its release, yet so incomplete that it’s not been published until a year-and-a-half later than its original date — but then there’s the matter of the fact that… Conway might not actually exist.

The biography of Conway on Penguin Books’ website is a simple one: “Elly Conway is the author of the heavily anticipated debut thriller, Argylle. She lives in the United States and is currently working on the next installment in the series.” Short, sweet, and… entirely without any actual information about the author.

Searching online won’t help; Conway has no significant digital footprint, outside of an Instagram account with no posts. Curiously enough, there is a deleted Twitter account called @TheEllyConway, and also another Twitter account for an Ellie Conway — a spelling of the first name that was initially used in early news reports about Argylle — that seem to belong to another writer altogether called Cat Conner.

To add more intrigue, when the Hollywood Reporter tried to ask Ballantine Books, which will publish Argylle in the US, about the author, the imprint apparently stopped responding to questions altogether. Requests to speak to Conway’s agent similarly went unanswered.

All of which raises the obvious question: is Conway real? The answer is no - but, as crazy as that might seem, it's far from unique; after all, the first-time writer for 2017’s Logan Lucky was similarly believed to be a pseudonym for a more established writer, although that particular mystery was never solved. With that being the case, then, the question becomes: who is Conway a front for?

The answer to that is, in part, Jason Fuchs, an actor and screenwriter who’s responsible for the screenplay to the movie. You might recognize his face, as he’s previously appeared in both La La Land and It Chapter Two — he plays Richie’s manager — but you’ll almost certainly know his writing; he’s worked on screenplays for Ice Age: Continental Drift and Wonder Woman.

But is Fuchs the writer of the actual Argylle novel that’s meant to be published in the real world? That remains a mystery, but we have a couple of possibilities for that role if it’s not Fuchs. The first is Jane Goldman, Vaughn’s collaborator on Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class, and the Kingsmen movies. Her resume has been remarkably light recently, with only her uncredited work on The Little Mermaid to show for the last three years that anyone knows about… which surely means there’s enough time to help create Vaughan’s next big cinematic franchise. If not Goldman, there’s someone a little more unexpected — Mark Millar, who has worked with Vaughn on a number of comics-to-movies projects before now. While he’s never written a novel before (which, honestly, might explain why it keeps being pushed back…), he is the kind of writer who loves the high concept “James Bond but better” idea behind Argylle… and he’s also someone who, thanks to his Millarworld deal with Netflix, would have reason to hide behind a fake name in working on this project, potentially.

Of course, the mystery is part of the story at this point… and it’s fun to find out more and more information about the movie, and Elly Conway, as the movie nears its release. (And the book its publication next January.) One thing’s for sure — this is the kind of thing that will make more people be paying attention with Argylle does hit the shelves in January. Perhaps that’s the whole point all along.

Everything you want to know about Argylle — other than the writer’s identity — can be found right here.