Netflix's The Night Agent was inspired by real-world Russian spy conspiracies

The Night Agent is the newest political spy thriller to land on Netflix but is the series based on a true story or is it a purely fictional creation?

Following the likes of The Recruit, Treason and In From The Cold, Netflix has built itself an impressive library of enthralling political thrillers and now, there’s a new entry in that genre in the form of The Night Agent.

Unlike some of the more outlandish political and espionage series, The Night Agent stays as close to reality as it can but does this mean the series is inspired by a true story?

The Night Agent release date and plot preview

The Night Agent exploded onto Netflix on Thursday, March 23, 2023.

Starring Gabriel Basso of Super 8 and The Big C, the 10-episode series follows low-level FBI Agent Peter Sutherland who is thrown into a vast conspiracy about a Russian mole that has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government.

If he hopes to save the nation, Peter must plunge into a desperate hunt for the mystery traitor, all while working with the terrorized CEO Rose Larkin and protecting her from the people she believed were her aunt and uncle.

The Night Agent © Netflix | YouTube

Is The Night Agent based on a true story?

The Night Agent is inspired by the fictional novel of the same name by author Matthew Quirk.

However, while The Night Agent is a fictional creation, some elements are loosely based in reality as Matthew Quirk revealed to The Real Book Spy in a 2019 Q&A.

He explained that he was inspired to write The Night Agent after learning that his friend, who worked night shifts in the FBI, was tasked with being ready to deal with any breaking crises in the middle of the night and, if needs be, to wake up the FBI director – which shares several similarities with Peter Sutherland’s role in the author’s story.

To help ground his fictional tale and give it a sense of realism, Quirk explained that he kept a keen eye on the news for events that could help fuel his grand conspiracy plot.

One of the main events that inspired The Night Agent was the real-life case of Mikhail Lesin, a Russian millionaire and press minister within Vladimir Putin’s government, who was found dead in a hotel in Washington in 2015, not far from where Quirk was living at the time.

On top of that, the conspiracy of Russian involvement in the 2016 US election and the following Mueller Investigation also fuelled news headlines and subsequently provided Quirk with more material to work with.

As did the case of Robert Hanssen, a double agent who worked as a spy for Russian intelligence within the FBI for more than 20 years, which is a clear inspiration for The Night Agent as its story revolves around the hunt for a Russian mole within the US government.

The Night Agent © Netflix | YouTube

About the author

Before turning his talents to writing novels, The Night Agent’s author Matthew Quirk studied history and literature at Harvard and after graduating, he became a reporter for The Atlantic where he spent five years reporting on crime, private military contractors, terrorism prosecutions and international gangs.

All of that was able to fuel his creative side with Quirk going on to write his debut novel, The 500, in 2012.

That proved to be the first of seven political thriller and spy novels that Quirk has written to date, including The Night Agent which was released in 2019.

Some of Quirk’s best-known works include the book series featuring the characters Mike Ford (The 500, The Directive) and John Hayes (Cold Barrel Zero, Dead Man Switch).

The Night Agent © Netflix | YouTube

The Night Agent is available to stream now on Netflix after releasing on Thursday, March 23, 2023.

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