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BREACH

Preparing For A True Story
The production team knew that there would be a fine line between creating dramatic tension for a story and telling a true incident with characters who are still alive. Of the balance, producer Kroopf relates, "As a filmmaker, you want to take every step to ensure that you're accurate, but at the same time you have to keep in mind that you're making a feature film for entertainment value.

"Billy set a very high standard for himself with Shattered Glass, by creating a really good story without veering too far from the truth,” he continues. "With Breach, he really wanted to stick to the material, to keep it character- and research-based—to tell the true story but to keep it very dramatic.”

For the film, the production team wanted the audience's point of view to be O'Neill's point of view—one in which O'Neill starts off in the dark about what was really happening with Hanssen. Through dramatic license, Ray ensures the key piece of information is held back from O'Neill until halfway through the film…when O'Neill finally confronts Kate Burroughs about the real reason for his assignment.

Billy Ray, who admits a penchant for research-driven movies, agrees that you have to take certain liberties in order to tell a story that will draw in audiences. "But, with Robert Hanssen, we didn't have to,” he says. "His story is so compelling, so odd, we didn't have to make up anything about him in order to tell a good tale. Certain events had to be compressed, certain characters needed to be combined and names needed to be altered—where the anonymity of people had to be protected. But what we told is what happened.”

Eric O'Neill admits to feeling a rush of emotions each time he walked onto the set. He shares, "Seeing Ryan and Chris in an office that's the exact clone of the one I worked in, and seeing Ryan and Caroline portraying myself and Juliana, really brought back memories of five years ago…and a resurgence of the sensations I felt back then.”

In 2001, O'Neill's new marriage to Juliana was quite complicated by this assignment. "I would work all day on the case, then go to law school at night, and very often go back to the office. I was torn between needing to be with Juliana and balancing this major national security investigation. So, suddenly I was just this jerk who was working all the time and didn't even seem to have a good explanation for it. It was very difficult to lie to her, but I was required to. That just goes with the job.”

"When Eric finally told me the truth,” recalls Juliana, "I was stunned and very relieved. A lot of things that hadn't quite added up over the last couple of months finally made sense. The newspaper stories appeared about this super spy being caught, and here I was married to the spy catcher—very exciting.”

Ray kept O'Neill involved in all aspects of the production, from rewriting the original screenplay to putting it on the big screen. "I worked closely with him to provide an accurate portrayal of events from an FBI standpoint,” says O'Neill. The former agent believes "this will be the most accurate FBI movie ever made.”

"If you have a resource like Eric available,” says Ray, "you'd be crazy not to use him. Eric was enormously helpful to me in the researching and writing of the script. And once the movie was cast, he was a great resource for Ryan and Chris. He had such insight into what Robert Hanssen was really like.

"Ryan had a slightly different take on Eric O'Neill than what I had written,” continues Ray. "What Ryan saw was a power dynamic between O'Neill and Hanssen that shifted in a way that hadn't been scripted or anticipated. This came out of his meeting with Eric. He began to see that as much as Hanssen could be a bully, and as much as he could humiliate and belittle you, Eric occasionally slapped back. That just makes the sto

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