Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut ‘Molly’s Game’ is a crime drama movie. It follows Molly Bloom, an aspiring Olympic athlete who enters the world of high-profile poker games and proceeds to build an empire of her own. As she begins organizing games with the biggest stakes and players, she catches the eye of the FBI, thus leading to her eventual downfall.
Starring Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Michael Cera, and Kevin Costner, ‘Molly’s Game’ enthralls the audience by depicting the daring rise and fall of a woman in a male-dominated world and the price she has to pay for betting her all. Now, if you’re curious to find out if the movie is based on a real incident or person, you’ve found a match in us. Let’s find out together!
Is Molly’s Game a True Story?
Yes, ‘Molly’s Game’ is based on a true story. It is adapted from eponymous the biographical memoir of Molly Bloom, an entrepreneur, speaker, and author. Born on April 21, 1978, in Loveland, Colorado, Molly was a competitive mogul skier attempting to qualify for Olympics, but an unfortunate back injury ended her career. After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Colorado Boulder, she moved to Los Angeles in 2004 and began working as a bartender at age 26.
The same year, real estate tycoon Darin Feinstein, the co-owner of the famous club named Viper Room, hired Molly as an executive assistant, and she eventually got involved with the high-stakes poker games that the club hosted in its basement. These games were attended by some of the biggest actors and businessmen. Gradually, she began learning more about the game through the internet as well as personal research and was soon handed more responsibilities at these events.
However, Molly’s employer relieved her of her job in 2007, after which she started her own catering and event company registered as Molly Bloom Inc. With the company, she started hosting her own poker games, which by 2008 escalated to more swanky locations like private homes of celebrities and five-star hotels like The Peninsula Beverly Hills, with stakes running as high as $4 million. Things took a rough turn due to the economic recession of 2008, and the player attendance at her games got lowered substantially.
Thus, Molly decided to move the business to Manhattan in 2009 and began conducting poker games in an apartment at Astor Place as well as The Plaza hotel. The players were usually Wall Street businessmen, but often gamblers with less clean backgrounds ended up attending. The bids were rather lower than the ones in Los Angeles and due to the debts of the players mounting, Molly was served with a $116,133 tax lien for not paying taxes on the declared income of her business. Moreover, due to more frequent tax raids in the area, the games were often moved to Long Island.
In the fall of 2010, another trouble befell Molly when she was allegedly attacked by two thugs in her apartment and they took away her cash and jewelry. According to her memoir, she refused the offer of protection from some mobster associates her driver introduced her to, and hence they decided to intimidate her. As she had started extending credit to the players who failed to pay their lost money, she was forced to take a part of it from the poker pot, which is considered to be against federal law.
Although this was just the beginning of Molly’s problems, as in March 2011, 20 FBI officers raided one of her games in her absence and seized her assets. This was due to the involvement of the hedge fund manager Bradley Ruderman, who played in the games in Los Angeles. He was convicted of running a Ponzi scheme worth $44.3 million in 2009, and he used client money from that to participate in Molly’s poker events. She was accused of receiving around $473,000 from Bradley for the games, and his bank records stated 19 transfers he made to her between 2007 and 2008.
After Molly agreed to cooperate with the investigation and testify against Bradley, she was let go. But later in 2011, Bradley’s investors decided to sue Molly and at least 11 more regular attendees of her Los Angeles poker games, demanding the money he took. Furthermore, Molly was questioned about her connections to the mob, some of whom attended her poker games. On April 16, 2013, Molly and 33 others were charged with money laundering worth $100 million and illegal sports gambling operations.
Molly faced up to ten years imprisonment, six years of supervised release, a $1.5 million fine or twice of her gainings from her crimes or twice the amount lost by victims, as well as a special assessment of $200. In May 2014, she pleaded guilty to her involvement in the $100 million gambling ring and was awarded one year of probation and 200 hours of community service.
In 2014, Molly published her memoir, in which she was discreet about most of the A-list celebrities who attended her poker games. Afterward, she tried approaching several people in the film industry to adapt her story for the big screen, but no one responded. In an August 2018 interview, she shared, “Everyone wanted to take a meeting, but no one wanted to make the movie… There were very, very powerful people who did not want this story told.”
Molly finally approached Aaron Sorkin, who not just took up her story to write for the screen but also agreed to make it his directorial debut. Both of them worked quite closely to develop the narrative and Molly gave her input to Aaron as well as the cast members whenever required. Apart from her poker journey, ‘Molly’s Game’ also focuses on her family life as well as her struggles with drug and alcohol addiction.
Molly further felt that telling her story via her memoir as well as the movie was not just helpful in solving her financial problems but also a healing process. In an interview with Vice, she shared, “I gotta say, there’s something very cathartic for me about first coming out with my book, and then telling on yourself and living through that. I kept a lot of the dirt to myself before the film, but after working eight months with Aaron, I really kinda came clean.”
“So it wasn’t just my life I was trying to save, it was also the people that were important to me. When I took in the personal inventory after the wreckage I had caused, the story itself seemed like the most monetizable asset so that I could be closer to paying these people back,” Molly further added. To reinstate, ‘Molly’s Game’ is a very authentic retelling of Molly Bloom’s true story and is brought to life by the nuanced performances of the cast members.
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