Arnon Milchan seems like a character straight out of one of his Hollywood movies
The famed movie producer, the power behind the hit Julia Roberts film Pretty Woman, this week revealed that he had been living a double life the entire time, working for years as an Israeli spy.
Milchan was born in Israel, where he was a successful businessman. Meanwhile in the United States he became one of Hollywood’s most powerful producers, responsible for highly acclaimed films including Fight Club and L.A. Confidential.
But while he was brokering business deals and bringing blockbusters to life in the United States, Arnon Milchan was also buying arms to help Israel build its nuclear program. He worked for the Bureau of Scientific Relations, a now defunct branch that had a secret defense program.
In an interview this week, Milchan said did the work for love of his country.
“I did it for my country, and I’m proud of it,” he said, in the AP report.
Today, Arnon Milchan owns New Regency Films, which in the past 45 years has brought more than 100 movies to the big screen. Arnon remains a powerful figure in Hollywood, maintaining close relationships with Martin Scorsese and Oliver Stone.
Milchan said when he came to Hollywood he tried to put the spy work behind him, but admitted “sometimes it gets mixed up.”
“In Hollywood, they don’t like working with an arms dealer, ideologically … with someone who lives off selling machine guns and killing. Instead of someone talking to me about a script, I had to spend half an hour explaining that I’m not an arms dealer. If people knew how many times I risked my life, back and forth, again and again, for my country.”
His work as a spy was something of an open secret in Hollywood.
“I had heard, but I wasn’t sure,” said actor Robert De Niro. “I did ask him once and he told me that he was an Israeli and, of course, he would do these things for his country.”
He admitted that it was an exciting life. At one point, Arnon Milchan was in charge of 30 companies across 17 countries, responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars worth of arms deals.
“Do you know what it’s like to be a 20-something-year-old kid [and] his country lets him be James Bond? Wow! The action! That was exciting,” Milchan said.