The true story that inspired Richard Linklater’s ‘Hit Man’
(Credits: Brian Roedel / Netflix)

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The true story that inspired Richard Linklater's ‘Hit Man’

People have an insatiable appetite for cinema inspired by real events because truth is actually often stranger than fiction. Richard Linklater, known for his innovative storytelling from Before Sunrise to Boyhood, offers a fresh take on the genre, blending elements of comedy and romance in Hit Man, a film he produced, directed, and co-wrote with star Glen Powell.

The film is inspired by the intriguing tale of Gary Johnson, a professor turned fake hitman. The screenplay of Hit Man is based on Skip Hollandsworth’s 2001 article published in Texas Monthly magazine.

The film also stars Good Omens actor Adria Arjona. The titular fake hitman is played by Powell, who recently had significant box office success starring alongside Sydney Sweeney in Anyone But You.

Hit Man is primed for a Netflix release this June 7th, 2024, after premiering at the 80th Venice International Film Festival last September. Read on to learn all about the true story that inspired the film.

The true story that inspired Richard Linklater’s Hit Man

Set against the vibrant backdrop of New Orleans, Hit Man delves into Johnson’s unexpected journey into the world of undercover operations. His encounter with Madison, played by Adria Arjona, adds a dash of filmy flair to the story. Madison’s attempt to hire Johnson’s alter ego, Ron, sets the stage for a whirlwind romance filled with deception and danger.

Gary Johnson wasn’t your average college professor. By day, he lectured on philosophy, but by night, he donned various disguises to help Houston police nab wannabe contract killers. Dubbed “the Laurence Olivier of the field,” according to Hollandsworth, Johnson’s knack for assuming different personas made him invaluable to law enforcement.

Linklater and Powell expertly translate Johnson’s exploits to the silver screen. Powell’s portrayal captures the essence of Johnson’s dual identity, seamlessly transitioning from academic to undercover operative. While Hit Man is inspired by real events, it’s not a documentary. It stays true to Johnson’s unconventional career, it takes creative liberties, infusing the story with fictional twists and turns. As per Hollandsworth’s article, Johnson was a three-time divorcee in real life, among other things. In the film, he gets an epic romance.

The film serves as a homage to Johnson’s unconventional legacy. As the movie gears up for its Netflix debut, viewers can prepare for a cinematic experience brimming with fun, romance, and unexpected twists.

So be prepared for a wild ride with Hit Man on Netflix as it arrives this June, and check out the trailer here: