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About The Production
Since the early 1990s, actor/director/producer Robert De Niro has been researching the subject of what would become his second directorial effort following 1993's acclaimed film A Bronx Tale. "Bob has always had an interest in foreign policy and the way that we gather intelligence,” relates Tribeca Films and The Good Shepherd's producer Jane Rosenthal.

However, the Academy Award®-winning actor was not interested in directing the standard fare of a spy-game fantasy. He wanted to make a film that would showcase the actual underpinnings of intelligence services and uncover how these largely anonymous men have controlled our world, at both personal and professional costs.

A friend who was aware of De Niro's interest in the CIA introduced him to Milt Bearden, a retired 30-year veteran of the CIA who would become the lead technical advisor on the film. The former agent, who ran the CIA's operations in Afghanistan in the mid-1980s, agreed to take De Niro across Europe and Asia on an educational journey to explore the hidden realms of intelligence gathering.

From the corners of Afghanistan to the northwest frontier of Pakistan—and off into Moscow—De Niro and Bearden traveled extensively to inform the veracity of what De Niro wanted to explore on film. In his travels with Bearden and in their research together, De Niro became privy to information with which few laypersons are entrusted. "Bob now probably has a better feel for people in the CIA—my generation or the one before—than anybody I've seen that was never in the world itself,” notes Bearden.

The author of several books about the CIA, Bearden explains how he is able to share closely guarded details about the United States intelligence operations without sacrifice to the men and women actively serving. "My rule is: ‘Don't do anything that hurts anybody or puts anybody in danger, and don't do anything that makes the job harder for anybody who's still trying to do it,'” he shares.

De Niro's continued fascination about intelligence gathering would gestate for several years before he was sent a copy of The Good Shepherd—an original script about the early years of the CIA by screenwriter Eric Roth—which dealt with the same issues that were intriguing the director. For the project, De Niro was offered a starring role. Remembers Rosenthal, "Bob immediately said, ‘Not only do I want to do this, but I want to direct it.'”

The writer, whose resume includes such popular and critically celebrated works as Forrest Gump, The Insider, Ali and Munich, had created a story that wove elements of an exciting spy thriller into the everyday lives of the CIA members who created the agency. "Eric is the best writer working today,” Rosenthal compliments. "It was his look at the internal workings of the CIA that we responded to.”

Roth was interested in an earlier time period than De Niro had been researching with Bearden, but the two quickly found common ground. "I've been intrigued by the CIA and how it formed,” says the writer. "This agency was started with literally 17, 18 people, and has ended up with 29,000 today.”

Framing his story with key events in the CIA's history—beginning the screenplay at the height of the OSS during World War II and closing the timeline with the CIA's failure to accomplish its crucial mission at the Bay of Pigs in 1961—Roth's script examined the lives of the men who formed our nation's modern-day intelligence service. "I researched people who went into the early years of the CIA and where they came from,” Roth says. "It was traditionally Yale and Skull and Bones.” Almost exclusively, white male Ivy Leaguers of a patrician class—considered the best and the brightest that the U.S. had to offer—ran the government arm.

In fact, this ultra-secret society counts several prominent Americans as members, incl

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