The Real-Life Zero Dark Thirty Heroine Is Having a Tough Time at Work

Photo: Columbia Picutres

The creators of Zero Dark Thirty have insisted that “it’s a movie, not a documentary” amid a growing controversy about the film’s depictions of torture. But the same goes for the real-life CIA operative who inspired the protagonist “Maya,” played by Jessica Chastain. While she’s a hero in the film, the Washington Post reports that in real life, she is having a difficult time at work in the aftermath of the successful hunt for bin Laden.

The single-minded focus that helped her persist in the years-long search has hurt her since, the Post reported. When she was given one of the CIA’s highest awards, and dozens of other people were given lesser awards, she hit “reply all” to an e-mail announcing the recipients and wrote, “You guys tried to obstruct me. You fought me. Only I deserve the award.”

While “Maya” did receive a cash bonus for her work on the bin Laden mission, she was passed over for a promotion. Her former co-workers were shocked, despite her interpersonal problems. “Do you know how many CIA officers are jerks?” said one former CIA official. “If that was a disqualifier, the whole National Clandestine Service would be gone.”

The woman isn’t allowed to talk to journalists, and in an interview with New York’s Mark Harris, screenwriter Mark Boal and director Kathryn Bigelow wouldn’t even confirm that they’d met with her. According to the Post, she did meet with the filmmakers, and the attention from Hollywood is making other agents jealous. “The agency is a funny place, very insular,” said the former official. “It’s like middle-schoolers with clearances.”

That actually sounds pretty entertaining. Maybe Hollywood should give “Maya” a mysterious love interest and turn it into a TV show — unless they already did.

Zero Dark Thirty Heroine Isn’t Popular at CIA