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Hit Man Director Richard Linklater Reveals How Much of Netflix Movie Is a True Story

Hit Man Director Richard Linklater Reveals How Much of Netflix Movie Is a True Story


  • Hit Man on Netflix is based on the true story of Gary Johnson, but takes creative liberties for a dramatic narrative.
  • Director Richard Linklater discusses the film’s influence from the real Johnson, but admits most events are fictionalized.
  • Hit Man openly admits to its embellishments in the closing credits, showing respect for the real Johnson’s life story.

Hit Man has just dropped on Netflix, following a limited theatrical run, and tells the somewhat true story of Gary Johnson, a fake hitman working for the New Orleans Police Department in sting operations. Directed by Richard Linklater, the movie stars Glen Powell as Johnson, and tells his story as his professional and personal lives become intertwined when he falls for one of his targets, Madison (Adria Arjona). But how much of Hit Man actually happened? Well, Linklater has set the record straight.

Hit Man

Hit Man


Release Date
September 5, 2023

1hr 53min

The director recently sat down with ComicBook.com to discuss the true story’s influence on the film, and his relationship with the real Gary Johnson (who passed away in 2022). “I just think this movie is so much his point of view, not only of her but just kind of the world, everything,” Linklater said. The script (co-written by Linklater and Powell) was inspired by an article written in the Texas Monthly which revealed Johnson’s incredible story. Linklater said that the article “influenced it a lot,” and he tried to remain true to who Gary was as a person, continuing:

“You know, what I knew of him personally and what we gather from his life and everything. He had that view.”

Hit Man Is Honest About the Changes it Made to the True Story

Like many biopics and films based on true events, Hit Man ends with real footage of Gary Johnson showing photos of him from his many careers up until his death two years ago. In true Hollywood fashion, Hit Man takes Johnson’s life story and spins a dramatic tale out of it involving steamy romance, violence, and murder, most of which didn’t happen. Linklater revealed:

“I mean, the article about him ends when he lets her off. So everything from then on is this little thrill ride we take you on.”


Hit Man Star Reveals How Steamy Bath Scene Resulted in Painful Rash

Adria Arjona said her intimate scenes with Glen Powell were overshadowed by props mistake.

Johnson letting Madison go is the catalyst for the movie, and happens around 20–30 minutes in, meaning the rest of the film stems from Linklater and Powell’s imaginations. But, unlike other biopics, Hit Man is very upfront about this. During the closing credits, as Linklater shows photos of Johnson, text appears on screen telling the audience that, while Gary Johnson and his fake job were very real, most of the film’s more dramatic moments never happened. Ultimately, the director believes that the real Gary Johnson would have loved seeing what the film did with his life sory, saying:

“But I think he’d be bemused by this movie where we took it is far beyond his own life.”

Alongside Glen Powell and Adria Arjona, Hit Man also stars Retta (Parks & Recreation), Austin Amelio (The Walking Dead), and Sanjay Rao (Bad Romance). Following its small theatrical release, the first reviews have dropped online and Hit Man is currently Glen Powell’s highest rated movie on Rotten Tomatoes at 98%, beating out Top Gun: Maverick (96%).

Hit Man
is currently streaming on Netflix.

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