Oh, yeah. There is no Elly Conway, aside from the character played by Bryce Dallas Howard in the movie. It was just a marketing gimmick. The cat was finally let out of the bag in The Telegraph this week, which confirmed that the book was written as a tie-in for the movie, and was a collaboration between definitely-not-first-time authors Terry Hayes and Tammy Cohen. It’s not an especially surprising reveal, since “Argylle” has no “based on” credit, instead attributing the script’s authorship entirely to screenwriter Jason Fuchs. The Washington Post had already pinned down Cohen as the likely ghostwriter of the book several weeks prior.
Though Cohen and Hayes claim they never expected such levels of speculation, the identity of Elly Conway was definitely a deliberately manufactured mystery. “When I read this early draft manuscript I felt it was the most incredible and original spy franchise since Ian Fleming’s books of the ’50s,” Vaughn dramatically proclaimed when the Apple deal was first announced, adding, “This is going to reinvent the spy genre.” He was still hyping up the movie’s fictional author as recently as last week, telling Variety, “I am begging Elly Conway to come out of the shadows.”
Reviewers and audiences alike seem unconvinced that “Argylle” has reinvented the spy genre. The movie has a score of 34% on Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing, and received a dismal C+ CinemaScore from audience exit polling. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Argylle” is expected to gross $16.9 million overseas in its opening weekend for a total global debut of around $33.4 million.