Valerie Plame on female spy characters

Valerie Plame at the 2006 White House Correspondents Association Dinner. (Jonathan Newton) Valerie Plame at the 2006 White House Correspondents Association Dinner. (Jonathan Newton)

What really ticks off CIA agent Valerie Plame? (Hint: it’s not Karl Rove.)

It’s the paper-thin — or overwrought — lady-spy-type characters great actresses are forced to portray on “Homeland,” “Zero Dark Thirty” or “Covert Affairs.”

Plame, portrayed herself by Naomi Watts in the movie “Fair Game,” is trying to broaden these characterizations in her novel, “Blowback,” out Oct. 1.

Of the Emmy-winning Claire Danes, who plays CIA agent Carrie Mathison on “Homeland”, Plame tells Post colleague David Beard: “Claire is a brilliant actress, and it’s really compelling TV. Of course, they made her manic-depressive to deepen the character, but notice that she has no friends. Of course, there’s frantic sex, but she’s kind of all alone with her jazz. If you’re going to be in human intelligence, having a high EQ is kind of essential.’’

Of Jessica Chastain of “Zero Dark Thirty”: “For dramatic reasons, they focused on this intense analyst, when really it was a cast of dozens that worked together. I love the fact that she was strong and female and courageous. But I must add she was playing an analyst, not an ops officer. … She was someone who essentially sits at a desk and is reviewing all the information. … She wasn’t handling big assets in the field, cold-pitching assets.’’

See the rest of her pop-culture critiques here:


Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.
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Al Kamen · September 25, 2013