Employees at the secretive National Security Agency were not too happy about the 1998 blockbuster film “Enemy of the State” that starred Will Smith.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise — the spy agency was portrayed as the villain — but now BuzzFeed News has obtained internal emails that prove it.
“I saw a preview for the new movie ‘Enemy of the State’ and to my surprise found out that NSA were the ‘bad guys’ in it,” wrote one NSA employee in a question to the agency’s public affairs team.
Directed by Tony Scott, the film was highly critical of NSA. The plot began with agency operatives murdering a congressman opposed to a surveillance bill — which was caught on tape — setting off a cat-and-mouse game between attorney Robert Dean (played by Will Smith) and agents trying to pursue him.
The film depicted the agency as having vast technical know-how and incredible surveillance capabilities (many of which were later confirmed by the Edward Snowden leaks). Once he saw the film, then-NSA Director Lt. Gen Michael Hayden saw a PR nightmare, telling CNN in 2001: “I made the judgment that we couldn’t survive with the popular impression of this agency being formed by the last Will Smith movie.”