The character of Cathy is one that any dedicated Jack Ryan fan may be familiar with — she's the CIA spy's love interest in Tom Clancy's novels, and will be brought to life in a new way once Amazon's adaptation of the character's stories debuts this week. But is Cathy from Jack Ryan based on a real person, in the show or even in the books?
Not so much. Jack Ryan and the basis for his life all appear to come from the mind of Clancy, who wrote more than 20 books featuring the character starting in the 1980s, and who sadly died back in 2013, according to Mashable. Cathy (sometimes also known as Caroline) has been portrayed in past Ryan-focused films by actresses like Bridget Moynahan and Keira Knightly, and now, according to Deadline, actor Abbie Cornish is slated to take up the helm.
In the show, Cathy Mueller is an infectious diseases doctor, TVLine reports, who apparently encounters Ryan as he gets his start as he begins to get caught in tumultuous CIA missions. The series isn't based on any one book of Clancy's, according to Variety. But rather, Jack Ryan takes the author's character and storytelling style as inspiration to build an entirely new plot cooked up by co-showrunners Graham Bolton and Carlton Cuse, who previously worked together on another in-depth drama, Lost.
But just because the story isn't rooted in a completely true tale doesn't mean that the showrunners didn't take care in making sure Jack Ryan is authentic. Roland himself was in the Marines, and told Variety in the same piece that that helped inform the way he wanted to portray Ryan, and the people he was fighting against.
"The thing that I brought from my own experience having been in the Middle East is that the vast majority of the people I came into contact with were really good, hardworking people and not that dissimilar from people here in the States. And I think that really informed a lot of how we approached the Middle East storylines," he said.
The duo also told PCMag.com that they had plenty of people with real-life, hands-on experience with the CIA helping them cultivate a realistic story. "We had a couple of consultants who had worked for the CIA," Roland told the site. "We relied most heavily on our consultant, David Chasteen, who had been with the CIA as recently as a year and a half [ago] when we first began working with him. His experience is very emblematic of today's CIA, how it's been restructured, how the culture has changed post 9/11 and post Iraq and Afghanistan."
Not only did those people help them make sure the core of the story rang true, but they also advised on the minutiae of terminology and CIA campus rules. "No cell phones inside CIA HQ," Roland said in the same interview. "It's not allowed and every show or movie gets this wrong. And people who work for the CIA are not called agents. Agents work at the FBI. CIA employees are analysts, case officers, assets, or operators, but never agents."
So while the characters aren't based on real people, the Jack Ryan showrunners are dedicated to delivering authenticity, as well as a fun ride.