Was there really an American spy codenamed April Fool? General Tommy Franks, the US commander in the 2003 Iraq conflict, said that a double agent named Fool played a key role in the downfall of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, providing top secret (and false) invasion plans to mislead the Iraqi military.
Franks’ story sounds about as believable as the Taco Liberty Bell, television Smell-o-Vision and digital Big Ben, but the general is sticking to his guns.
SPYSCAPE rounds up some of the best celebrity pranks in a salute to April 1.
Matt Damon is best known as Jason Bourne, a rogue CIA operative and former assassin, but back in 1999 Damon played an imposter in The Talented Mr Ripley. Damon’s green Speedo scene inspired gifs, memes and countless column inches. It also inspired George Clooney to create a tongue-in-cheek campaign for Damon to be named People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive. Clooney even paid for a full-page ad showing Damon at his neon green best. "We kept pummeling him for, I don’t know, two years,” Clooney said. Damon had the last laugh though, winning the honor in 2007.
Damon pulled off his own, epic prank in 2016 when he punked strangers to perform spy tasks on orders he gave through a dropped cell phone. ”We set up a simulation to give unsuspecting people the chance to feel like they’re in a spy movie,” the Jason Bourne actor explained in a series of hilarious pranks posted on YouTube
Ashton Kutcher, star of Vengeance and Punk’d, has been in on some of the best celebrity practical jokes for years, but what about the footage that never aired? Hilary Duff, star of the spy comedy Agent Cody Banks, was supposed to be Punk’d with a driving lesson that ended in a fake carjacking. What threw the crew, however, was a random man who pulled up beside her and pulled out a gun! This was not part of the joke, but luckily the unknown man drove away.
While filming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Ben Affleck decided to redecorate co-star Henry Cavill’s trailer with posters of the film, slightly altered to show Batman as a superior superhero. Affleck posted the prank to his Instagram account and added a note: ‘Henry, I'm flattered. I didn't know you were such a fan!’ Cavill responded by joking that he had a ‘genuine dislike’ for his co-star.
Rihanna had the perfect plan to prank talk show host Jimmy Kimmel in 2015. Rihanna snuck into his bedroom (with help from Kimmel’s wife) late at night to awaken Kimmel with a rendition of B**** Better Have My Money. Rihanna later appeared on Kimmel’s show to air the video and admitted she sometimes gets bored on tour and likes to hide raw fish in her band’s luggage or get up to other mischief. Hmmm … would that mischief include spying for Pakistan?
Soccer star David Beckham, who had a cameo in the espionage film The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (above, right), was excited when his Los Angeles Galaxy club decided to unveil a statue in his honor in 2019. English actor James Corden decided that was the perfect time for a carefully orchestrated prank. Corden hired actors to pose as guests at a fake ‘gala’, then unveiled a bronze statue of Beckham with a huge butt and massive chin. Beckham was clearly shocked before Cordon revealed the joke. Luckily the real statue perfectly captures the superstar in action.
Spy Game star Brad Pitt decided to play a practical joke on Clooney while filming Ocean’s Twelve around Clooney’s home in Lake Como, Italy. Pitt arranged for Italian notices to be posted around town suggesting Clooney was a bit of a diva. Locals were advised to only address Clooney by his character’s name, Danny Ocean, and not to look him directly in the eye. It was payback time. Clooney once got his hands on stationary with Pitt's name on it and sent a note to Meryl Streep offering her acting advice!
Is Tom Hardy, the new 007? Twitter and Instagram went into overdrive in 2018 when a UK tabloid announced on April 1 that Tom Hardy was replacing Daniel Craig as the next James Bond. Alas, there had been no announcement. Hardy got in on the fun, however, posting to his Instagram account that he was already dressed in a tuxedo and ready to fly back home to London when he discovered the news was a joke.
Pranks don’t always go according to plan. Just ask Carlos Bernard, the star of the television series 24 who played a systems analyst at the Counter Terrorist Unit's Los Angeles HQ. Almeida paid two of his police officer friends to show up on the set and fake the arrest of his co-star Mia Kirshner. Bernard then staged a fake fight with the officers, distressing Kirshner so much she couldn’t carry on working. Filming shut down for an entire day but Bernard still considered his prank a success.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, star of True Lies, thought he’d surprise fans with a guest appearance at Madame Tussauds wax museum in Hollywood. Schwarzenegger wanted to play a practical joke to help raise money for a charity. The star pretended to be a wax figure of his Terminator character and posed with fans who didn’t realize they had their arm around the man himself. The video of Schwarzenegger’s gag has been viewed more than 57m times. Job well done. Hasta la vista, babies.