Who is Elly Conway? The answer to that is proving elusive.
The simple answer is that Conway is a first-time novelist whose upcoming spy thriller, Argylle, has already been adapted into a major motion picture with an all-star cast that includes Henry Cavill, Ariana DeBose, Bryan Cranston, Bryce Dallas Howard and Dua Lipa in her screen debut.
The deal cost Apple a whopping $200 million, according to industry reports, which guarantees only a single film — one that might launch a new movie franchise.
“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,” director Matthew Vaughn (Kingsman franchise, X-Men: First Class) gushed when the project was announced in August 2021. “This is going to reinvent the spy genre.”
That may be so, but the numbers involved are rare for a first-time author. Conway doesn’t even have a book for sale yet: Argylle was originally slated for a Sept. 29 release; that has since been pushed to March 30, 2023.
The book has no Amazon page, save for a German-language Kindle version scheduled for Jan. 10, 2023. Attempts by The Hollywood Reporter to read an advance copy of the book — a common industry practice — were unsuccessful.
According to Conway’s two-line bio, she “lives in the United States and is currently working on the next installment in the series.”
Beyond that, however, there exists virtually no information about Conway. Internet searches of her name turn up only references to a fictional character on the long-running Australian soap opera Neighbors.
Adding to the mystery, an alternate spelling of her name, Ellie Conway, appears elsewhere on the Penguin Random House website and in news reports on the rights deal.
An Instagram account, @authorellyconway, currently sits empty and is followed by nine accounts, including a Bryce Dallas Howard fan account.
A short teaser for the film was released on March 9. It features Dua Lipa dancing seductively with Cavill. “The bigger the spy,” Cavill says in voice-over, “the bigger the lie.” Currently in post-production, the film does not yet have a release date, with IMDb listing it as “expected in 2023.”
Efforts by THR to interview Conway, or even learn more details about her, have proven fruitless. Communication with a publicist for Ballantine Books, the imprint publishing Argylle, went dead after the conversation turned to questions about the author.
Emails to Conway’s agent, WME’s Eric Reid, also failed to receive a response.