Hit Man: Is Maddy Masters Inspired by a Real Person?

In Netflix’s black comedy film ‘Hit Man,’ undercover assassin Gary Johnson’s life gets turned around after he meets Madison “Maddy” Masters, who seeks his service to kill her husband. Maddy tells him that her partner is emotionally abusive and doesn’t let her be herself. Even though he is obliged to proceed with the assignment and hand Maddy over to the police, Gary becomes sympathetic. He lets her go, only to eventually form a romantic relationship with her. Like Gary, Maddy Masters is technically based on a real person. Having said that, the character’s connection with reality can be described as minimal!

The Origin of Maddy Masters

While Gary Johnson was working as a fake assassin, he was assigned to the case of an anonymous young woman. This particular individual was a regular at a Starbucks store located in Montrose, an offbeat neighborhood of Houston, Texas. She opened up to an employee about the condemnable way her boyfriend had been treating her. Outrightly hopeless, she decided to kill him with the help of a hired assassin to escape from him. The woman then asked the Starbucks employee whether he knew someone who could do the job for her.

The employee reached out to the police to inform the officials about the woman’s search for a hitman. The case then landed on Gary’s lap to arrest her. The undercover officer dug into the woman’s life, only to find out that she had been telling the truth. “He [Gary] learned that she really was the victim of abuse, regularly battered by her boyfriend, too terrified to leave him because of her fear of what he might do if he found her,” Skip Hollandsworth wrote in his Texas Monthly profile of Gary, which is the source text of the film. After learning about her circumstances, the fake hitman didn’t feel like trapping and handing her over to the police.

Rather than causing the woman’s arrest, Gary referred her to social service agencies and a therapist for her betterment. He wanted her to flee from her abusive boyfriend and up in a women’s shelter. “The greatest hit man in Houston has just turned soft,” Hollandsworth told Gary after learning about the woman, only for the former assassin to respond, “Just this once.” The connection between the real-life woman and Maddy ends here. The former’s identity remains unknown even now.

The Creation of Maddy Masters

In Skip Hollandsworth’s article, the information about the unnamed young woman makes it clear that Gary Johnson was a compassionate individual. That was also what attracted Glen Powell, the main lead and co-writer of the black comedy, to the woman. However, as he was developing the film, the actor-writer realized the actual potential of the character based on the particular individual. He then decided not to limit his film to the exact events that happened in Gary’s life. That was how Powell and Richard Linklater conceived Maddy’s storyline and her fictional marriage with Gary.

Powell approached the narrative as a body-swap comedy rather than a biographical drama. He wanted his character, Gary, to be stuck in his hitman persona to explore the predicament, paving the way for the creation of Maddy. “His [Gary’s] life seems so safe and binary for doing such a weirdly dangerous job. And then all of a sudden you’re like, ‘Oh, what if this person got stuck as a dangerous hit man, and what would that look like? How would that change the man?’” Powell told Netflix’s Tudum. “Gary would never in a million years dream of getting entangled with a woman who recently tried to become an accessory to murder; Ron does it with style,” he added.

Maddy killing Ray and her collaboration with Gary to murder Jasper are fictional developments that were integrated into this particular storyline. Therefore, Maddy can be seen as a largely fictional character with a small connection to reality.

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