Is Netflix’s 'The Coldest Game' Based on a True Story?

Katie Garrity - Author

Feb. 6 2020, Updated 8:56 p.m. ET

Source: IMDB

Spy thriller and crime drama, The Coldest Game, won’t premiere on Netflix until Feb. 8th, but many are already wondering if The Coldest War was based on a true story. Like many Netflix dramas that have come before such as Dark Waters or The Two Popes, these captivating movies are based on real people and true events and that makes them all the more compelling.

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So, when it comes to the highly-anticipated and buzz-worthy The Coldest Game, everyone is left wondering one thing: is the script based on true events? 

'The Coldest Game's story takes place during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

The Cuban Missile Crisis was a confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union initiated by the American discovery of Soviet ballistic missile deployment in Cuba. The confrontation is often considered the closest the Cold War came to escalating into a full-scale nuclear war. So what does this have to do with The Coldest Game?

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Source: IMDB

Not only does the film take place right in the center of this conflict, but it involves Bill Pullman’s character finding himself in one of the most important and world-altering chess matches that could very well mean the end of 'world peace'.

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Bill Pullman’s character is a genius with a drinking problem.

Bill plays a brilliant but jaded math genius named Josh Mansky, who also happens to be an alcoholic. His character finds himself sucked into the world of espionage and conflict between the world's superpowers when he is drafted to play in a U.S. vs. Soviet chess match. Bill actually wasn't supposed to play the lead role originally but stepped in when original lead, William Hurt, broke his leg in an off-set accident.

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In the film, The Sinner star's character, despite limited social skills and substance-abuse issues, is recruited by a seductive CIA agent (played by Lotte Verbeek) and abruptly flown to Warsaw, Poland to face off against a Russian chess champ (Evgenij Sydikhin) at an international tournament. 

The tournament actually takes place in the Palace of Culture and Science, a genuine Cold War relic that in real life still remains a noted structure in the city center of Warsaw. The match parallels the strategic and dire situation that the US found themselves in during this 1962 crisis. 

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Source: IMDB

So, is 'The Coldest Game' a true story?

Lukasz Kosmicki, who wrote and directed the spy thriller, claims The Coldest Game is not based on true events. The story is a work of fiction. Lukasz does, however, have other films in his resume that were based on real-life events. One is Departament IV from 1996, a documentary about ideological warfare. The other is Gry uliczne, also from 1996, a feature revolving around the real-life murder of anti-government activist Stanislaw Pyjas by the secret police.

While the highly-regarded and anticipated film takes place during a very real and trying time in American history, the events that transpire for the character of Josh Mansky did not actually happen, but they make from a compelling story nonetheless. The Coldest Game drops on Netflix on Feb. 8.

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