The Recruit is inspired by the experiences of a former CIA lawyer (now one of the series’ executive producers) who once sued the Agency.
Owen Hendricks (Noah Centineo) is a 20-something law school grad and a rookie CIA attorney. He’s keen and sharp - the ideal recruit. When Owen meets former Agency asset Max Meladze (Laura Haddock), however, he is drawn into an international conspiracy and is soon out of his depth.
Despite the dramatic twist, The Recruit is actually playful and often absurd as it exposes the bizarre realities of working for a spy agency. Intrigued? We’ve gathered 10 secrets you may not know about the Netflix drama and its red-hot stars. This is a debrief you will definitely want to read!
1. Star Noah Centineo also exec-produced The Recruit
Miami-born Noah Centineo is winning rave reviews for his turn as a neophyte CIA lawyer who unearths a major ‘graymail’ case during his first week. Centineo isn't just the show’s leading man. He also executive-produced The Recruit - and it’s not a token credit - he brought creator Alexi Hawley’s script to Netflix and helped develop the story. Hawley told the Netflix Tudum site that Centineo had a hand in all aspects of production, from pre-production to release. “He really got the show on a DNA
2. Is graymail actually a thing?
Hawley developed the idea for The Recruit around the concept of ‘graymail’, a legal defense tactic where a person essentially blackmails the government to drop their case to avoid revealing national security issues. National Security staff member Oliver North, for example, successfully used graymail to get the most serious charges against him dismissed. North was at the center of the Iran–Contra affair, which involved a secret US arms deal that traded missiles to free some Americans held hostage by terrorists in Lebanon, while also using funds to support armed conflict in Nicaragua.
3. Centineo met with real-life CIA lawyers
Before the series premiere, Centineo visited CIA attorneys and analysts at their Langley HQ to fire off a volley of questions about their jobs. “He was delighted,” Vanity Fair reports, “When some of them shot back with the Agency’s infamous non-response: We can neither confirm nor deny. “That’s my favorite,” Centineo told the magazine excitedly. “We were trying. At least three times, we got one of those [replies].” In addition to the non-denial-denials, Centineo walked away with another Agency gem: “I’m not prepared to speak to that.”
4. The Recruit episode titles are coded acronyms
The Recruit’s Season One consists of eight episodes, all with acronym-based titles that are CIA-like codes. For example, when Owen begins his new job, he doesn’t just need to learn the routine, he needs to learn about the Alphabet soup of departments and agencies he’ll be dealing with like the DIA and NSA. Netflix decided to have fun with the concept. Episode One is entitled “I.N.A.S.I.A.L.” which means “I’m Not a Spy, I’m a Lawyer”. Can you figure out the rest? Hint: The acronyms represent lines from their respective episodes.
Episode 2: “N.L.T.S.Y.P.”
Episode 3: “Y.D.E.K.W.Y.D.”
Episode 4: “I.Y.D.I.A.A.C.”
Episode 5: “T.S.L.A.Y.P.”
Episode 6: “I.C.I.N.C.”
Episode 7: “I.M.F.T.B.S.”
Episode 8: “W.T.F.I.O.H.”
(Answers at the bottom.)
5. Co-star Laura Haddock went to great lengths to nail Max’s accent
British-born Laura Haddock worked with dialect and accent coaches to prepare for her role as a Russian operative in The Recruit. Haddock also dropped her tone to lose her natural sing-songy voice and listened to Russian women speaking in English to understand the cadence. How serious was she about getting the accent right? Haddock actually learned some Russian to play Max. “Honestly, I love working in accents,” Haddock told The Wrap, “I’d actually prefer to work in an accent than not in an accent.”
ANSWERS to Question 4
Episode 1: “I.N.A.S.I.A.L.” means “I’m Not a Spy, I’m a Lawyer”.
Episode 2: “N.L.T.S.Y.P.” means “Never Let Them See You Pucker”
Episode 3: “Y.D.E.K.W.Y.D.” means “You Don’t Even Know What You Do”
Episode 4: “I.Y.D.I.A.A.C.” means “If You Do It as Anderson Cooper”
Episode 5: “T.S.L.A.Y.P.” means “That Sounds Like a You Problem” (Technically, Owen says, “Wow, sounds like a you problem.”)
Episode 6: “I.C.I.N.C.” means “I’m Clenching, I’m Not Clenching”
Episode 7: “I.M.F.T.B.S.” means “It’s My First Time Being Sexpionaged”
Episode 8: “W.T.F.I.O.H.” means “Who the F*ck Is Owen Hendricks?”