Operation Mincemeat Cast & Guide to Real-Life Characters

British war drama Ground Meat Operation features an ensemble cast led by Colin Firth based on real historical figures. Directed by John Madden, known for Shakespearein love and Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Ground Meat Operation received positive reviews and is currently Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. The story may be hard to believe given the extravagant nature of British warfare tactics, but Ground Meat Operation is based on a true story.

Ground Meat Operation tells the story of the British deception mission of the same name during World War II. Led by Ewen Montagu (Colin Firth), the British Navy attempted to supply Nazi Germany with false information by dumping a corpse, which contained several fictitious documents outlining plans to invade Greece, into enemy seas. By tricking the Germans into thinking they would move to different locations, the creative ploy enabled Britain and its allied forces to push Germany out of Sicily and gain territory in Europe.


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This is the second time Operation Mincemeat has been made into a film. In 1956 The man who never was told the same story, with the real Ewen Montagu himself making an appearance. Ground Meat Operation continues a trend of adapting true war stories, especially from WWII, with Netflix Munich: the brink of war release earlier in 2022. Madden’s new take on the story of Ground Meat Operation is based on the 2010 non-fiction book of the same name by Ben Macintyre. Here is a guide to the cast and characters of Ground Meat Operation, what the actors have done before and who the real people behind the characters were.

Colin Firth as Ewen Montagu

Colin Firth stars in Ground Meat Operation like Ewen Montagu, the British commander who led the mission. While Montagu’s portrayal in the film was largely accurate, his knowledge of British intelligence prior to “The Twenty Committee” was understated. Montagu had good British intelligence expertise at this time, making him a suitable candidate to lead Operation Mincemeat. Following the events of the film, Montagu held senior positions in the British Navy, in the courts, and in public health. Colin Firth’s many acting credits include The King’s Speech and Kingsman: The Secret Serviceand he has already appeared in the adaptation of the true story 1917.

Matthew Macfadyen as Charles Cholmondeley

Matthew Macfadyen plays Montagu’s colleague and British intelligence officer Charles Cholmondeley. Cholmondeley originally wanted to be in the Air Force but was disqualified due to his poor eyesight, which led to a career in MI5. Cholmondeley was a key figure in Operation Mincemeat, having spent months planning the mission to be a modern version of the Trojan Horse. Macfayden is best known for his role as Athos in the 2011 film The three Musketeers.

Jason Isaacs as John Godfrey

Jason Isaacs plays the dubious Admiral John Godfrey, the head of British naval intelligence who is unconvinced that Operation Mincemeat will work. Despite his hesitations, Godfrey is responsible for approving Winston Churchill’s risky mission. The stern commander is aided by his assistant, the real Ian Fleming who would later serve as the basis for the James Bond character “M” on Godfrey. Jason Isaacs is best known for his role as Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter film series, Hap in the OA, and Jackson Brodie in Case histories.

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Kelly Macdonald as Jean Leslie

Kelly Macdonald’s Jean Leslie poses as the fake bride of the corpse used in Operation Mincemeat. The MI5 administrator gave Montagu and Cholmondeley a photo of herself to plant on the fake intelligence officer. Leslie is also at the center of a romantic subplot with Montagu and Cholmondley, which, though partially true in reality, was exaggerated in the film. Kelly Macdonald’s acting credits include her role as Merida in Pixar Brave and like Diana in Trainspotting.

Operation Mincemeat Supporting Cast

Johnny Flynn as Ian Fleming: In Operation Mincemeat, Ian Flemming is played by Johnny Flynn. JThe James Bond author penned the idea for Operation Mincemeat while working as an assistant to John Godfrey. Fleming wrote the Trout Memo for Godfrey, an article listing 54 ways the British Army could deceive enemies in wartime, including the idea that became Operation Mincemeat. He then became an author and almost all of Ian Fleming’s Bond books have been adapted into films. Johnny Flynn also appeared in uma and The clothe.

Simon Russel Beale as Winston Churchill: In Ground Meat Operation Prime Minister Winston Churchill is played by Simon Russell Beale. The British Prime Minister during World War II has been portrayed in films several times, most notably with Gary Oldman’s Oscar-winning performance in darkest hour. Russell Beale is known for his roles in The Death of Stalin, Penny Dreadfuland his stage work for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Penelope Wilton as Hester Leggett: Hester Leggett is played by Penelope Wilton in Ground Meat Operation. Hester Leggett is the one who wrote the fake love letters and helped create a believable backstory for the corpse used in Operation Mincemeat. Wilton is known for her roles in Downton Abbey and after life.

Related: James Bond: Every Unused Ian Fleming Title (& What They Mean)

Mark Gatiss as Ivor Montagu: Ivor Montagu is played by Mark Gatiss in Ground Meat Operation. Ewen Montagu’s younger brother was suspected of being a Russian spy by John Godfrey. Ivor was a prominent communist sympathizer, who also played a key role in the British film industry and table tennis. Gatiss is well known for his work as an actor and writer for Doctor Who and Sherlock, and will appear alongside Tom Cruise in mission impossible 7.

Mark Bonnar as John Horsfall: Mark Bonnar plays John Horsfall, a British racing driver who has been recruited to drive the Operation Mincemeat corpse 500 miles north of Scotland, where the Royal Navy’s submarine base was located. Mark Bonnar is known for his television work on Disaster and Course of action.

Paul Ritter as Bentley purchase: Bentley Purchase is played by Paul Ritter in Ground Meat Operation. Bentley Purchase was a British coroner and solicitor who, as shown in the film, played a key role in identifying and preparing the corpse used in Operation Mincemeat. Ritter is best known for his role in Chernobyl. Ground Meat Operation was Ritter’s last performance before his unfortunate passing in 2021 and Ground Meat Operation is dedicated to his memory.

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