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Movie Fact #141 - January 12th, 2021


2012's Zero Dark Thirty painstakingly recreated the historic night-vision raid on the Abbottabad compound, but the film as a whole stressed the little-reported role of the tenacious young female CIA officer who tracked down Osama bin Laden. This woman would ultimately evolve into Jessica Chastain's female protagonist, Maya Harris although screenwriter Mark Boal said the character was "based on a real person, but she also represents the work of a lot of other women." In fact, in December 2014, Jane Mayer of The New Yorker wrote that "Maya" was modeled in part after CIA officer Alfreda Frances Bikowsky. All that being said, Boal's discovery of this CIA operative is what propelled the project forward:

"I heard through the grapevine that women played a big role in the CIA in general and in this team. I heard that a woman was there on the night of the raid as one of the CIA's liaison officers on the ground – and that was the start of it."

From there, he turned up stories about a young case officer who was recruited out of college, who had spent her entire career chasing bin Laden. This helped create Maya's tough-minded, monomaniacal persona. The result was Chastain's Oscar-nominated performance and one of the best received movies of the year 2012. That's why you do your research! Stay tuned!

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