Arnon Milchan’s double life as a Hollywood producer and Israeli spy reads like a script for a film he produced.
After years of speculation about his past, Milchan admitted he had worked as an Israeli spy and arms dealer, even after coming to Hollywood, in a report on Israel’s investigative TV show “Uvda.” The Israeli businessman-turned-Hollywood producer behind “12 Years a Slave,” “Fight Club” and “L.A. Confidential” admitted to buying arms that were going to be used by Israel to build nuclear bombs.
“I should have been aware of that, of what I’ll go through, and said, ‘F**k you. You know what? I did it for my country, and I’m proud of it,'” Milchan said about the industry’s disapproval of his past activities.
Milchan’s company New Regency has produced more than 120 films since the 1970s. He has worked closely with Martin Scorsese, Roman Polanski and Oliver Stone, as well as Robert De Niro, Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck, who appeared in the special that aired Monday.
“I had heard but I wasn’t sure,” said De Niro, who also appeared on the broadcast regarding Milchan’s covert affairs. “I did ask him once, and he told me that he was an Israeli and of course he would do these things for his country.”
Milchan allegedly worked for Israel’s Bureau of Scientific Relations, which closed its doors in 1987 after it was implicated in a spying affair that led to the life imprisonment of a U.S. Navy intelligence analyst. According to the report, Milchan was at one point operating 30 companies in 17 countries and negotiating deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
“Do you know what it’s like to be a twentysomething-year-old kid (and) his country lets him be James Bond?” Milchan asked. “Wow! The action! That was exciting.”
He also admitted to using his connections in the entertainment biz to promote South Africa’s apartheid regime so the country would help Israel acquire uranium.
“In Hollywood, they don’t like working with an arms dealer, ideologically, with someone who lives off selling machine guns and killing,” he said. “Instead of someone talking to me about a script, I had to spend half an hour explaining that I’m not an arms dealer. If people knew how many times I risked my life, back and forth, again and again, for my country.”