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BREACH

About The Production
"I do solemnly swear to support, uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic, to obey the lawful orders and directives of those appointed before and above me, and that I enter into this office without any mental reservation whatsoever, so help me God.” —FBI Oath taken at Quantico upon graduation

The story of Breach (as learned by the general public) began only months before September 11, 2001. On February 18 of that year—as the result of an ongoing investigation by a committed team of more than 500 men and women in the FBI— Special Agent Robert Hanssen was arrested and charged with committing espionage.

Throughout his 25-year career with the Bureau, Hanssen spent the last 22 years of his service selling thousands of pages of valuable classified documents to Russia during the Cold War—and subsequently to the former Soviet Union. His betrayal included identification of KGB agents who were spying on behalf of America, as well as the United States template for relocation of the president in the event of a catastrophic attack. A member of this team of federal agents was a young man named Eric O'Neill.

O'Neill was a 26-year-old special surveillance operative who, only three months earlier, had been recruited by the team to work as an assistant to Hanssen. The operatives planted O'Neill in the hopes that he could gain Hanssen's trust, further drawing the suspected mole out of cover. After the arrest, O'Neill was reassigned to his original position; shortly thereafter, he left the Bureau to concentrate on his law studies.

Once out of the Bureau, O'Neill recounted his experience of working with Hanssen—and the unique relationship that developed between them—to his brother, David, who convinced him that the story would make a fascinating film. O'Neill sought and was granted approval by the FBI to move forward with the idea.

Producers Bobby Newmyer and Scott Strauss of Outlaw Productions snapped up the rights to O'Neill's story and, along with O'Neill, brought on screenwriting team Adam Mazer and William Rotko to craft the early versions of the script.

During screenplay development, Newmyer watched writer/director Billy Ray's 2003 drama Shattered Glass. Newmyer felt the filmmaker's treatment of the true story of journalist Stephen Glass' rise and fall would offer just the sensibility Eric O'Neill and Robert Hanssen's story needed. Ray joined the team not only to write, but also to direct the revamped Breach.

Along with Scott Kroopf of Intermedia Films, the filmmakers brought the project to Universal Pictures, who greenlit the film. "We agreed that this was a truly interesting story and a great concept for a movie, made all the more fascinating because it was based on a true story,” offers producer Kroopf. "We also believed that Billy was the ideal guy to do this job, that he had the vision needed to pull it all together.”

Of his decision to begin Breach, writer/director Billy Ray reflects, "I tend to be attracted to stories that are about deception. Or maybe I'm just attracted to characters that have that split down the middle—who are able to compartmentalize, to live one kind of life on the outside and a very different interior life. It makes for more interesting stories.

"Hanssen was a man of startling contradictions who did an unimaginable amount of damage to his country,” continues Ray. "He successfully spied on behalf of the Soviets and Russians for 22 years before being caught, so clearly he was an intelligent individual. But at the end of the day, he is an evil man and a traitor to his country.”

With the project greenlit, the production team would turn its focus to casting the talent who would become the key players in one of this country's biggest takedowns.

"From the begi

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