Renowned spy novelist John le Carre has been remembered by Hollywood A-listers as a “literary giant”, as tributes roll in following news of his death.
Stars have taken to social media to celebrate the late author’s extensive work, which ran to 25 novels and a semi-autobiographical memoir.
Actor Gary Oldman said playing protagonist George Smiley in the film adaptation of le Carre’s best-selling novel, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, was one of the highlights of his life.
“For me, John le Carre was many things. He was, of course, a very great author, the true “owner” of the serious, adult, complicated spy novel—he actually owned the genre,” Oldman said.
“All who follow are in his debt. His characters were drawn deftly and deeply, nuances too many to count, and for me, inhabiting George Smiley remains one of the high points of my life.”
Joining Oldman in praising le Carre’s talent and dedication was actor Stephen Fry, who planned to revisit the author’s work, starting with his first published book, Call For The Dead.
Life imitates art …
The 89-year-old, whose real name was David Cornwell, died of pneumonia at the Royal Cornwall Hospital on December 12 (British time).
Before pursuing life as an author, le Carre was a real-life spy for British intelligence agencies MI5 and MI6.
His years as a spy served as inspiration for his gritty espionage novels.
His greatest and most well-known works included Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, The Little Drummer Girl, The Night Manager and Agent Running in the Field.
Actor Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming) commended le Carre for his gripping novel, Smiley’s People.
The author, who was known as a master of espionage literature, leaves behind a wife and four children who released a statement following his death.
“David is survived by his beloved wife of almost 50 years, Jane, and his sons Nicholas, Timothy, Stephen and Simon. We all grieve deeply his passing,” the statement read.
“Our thanks go to the wonderful NHS team at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro for the care and compassion that he was shown throughout his stay. We know they share our sadness.”
Fellow author Stephen King honoured le Carre’s “humanitarian spirit” and later claimed The Little Drummer Girl was “one of the best novels” he had ever read.
Florence Pugh (Little Women) shared an Instagram post detailing her friendship with the writer that began on the set of the film adaptation of his novel, The Little Drummer Girl, in which Pugh starred.
“I remember sitting down next to him at dinner and after a while of back and forth, realising that we were both trying to figure each other out,” Pugh wrote.
“Sizing one another up, testing and teasing each other constantly. Until, I called him an old fart. I watched his eyes light up with glee and we both cackled until we cried. He peered at me over his glass and giggled, “I think we’re going to get along just fine.”
Another fellow author, Margaret Atwood, who wrote The Handmaid’s Tale, shared the sad news with her followers on Twitter.
Actor Michael McKean (Better Call Saul, This Is Spinal Tap) encouraged his followers to read some of le Carre’s most popular books.
Between his first novel in 1961 and his most recent in 2019, le Carre sold more than 60 million copies, making him one of the best-selling authors of all time.
In The Pigeon Tunnel (le Carre’s 2016 memoir), the author detailed his obsession and passion for espionage thrillers.
“Spying and novel writing are made for each other,” he wrote.
“Both call for a ready eye for human transgression and the many routes to betrayal.”