“The David Kahn Story” is a new Hollywood film, starring Sean Connery and Leonardo DiCaprio. I am a character in this movie, played by German actor Hape Kerkeling.

After Enigma, The Imitation Game, Wind Talkers and a few others, a new Hollywood film with a reference to cryptology has been released: The David Kahn Story.


The frame story of this film is about a conversation between crypto history legend David Kahn (played by Sean Connery) and me (played by German actor and comedian Hape Kerkeling). David looks back upon his life as a cryptology icon, starting with a dispute he had with the NSA about his book The Codebreakers in 1967. The NSA didn’t want this work to be published because it was not desired to make encryption methods public knowledge.

Other flashbacks show how The Codebreakers laid the foundations of academic cryptology. Virtually all famous cryptologists of the 1970s started their career with reading this book, including the inventors of RSA and Diffie-Hellman.

The movie also covers David Kahn’s trip to Korea and Japan for the Soccer Worldcup 2002, where his son Oliver Kahn (Leonardo DiCaprio) played as a goalkeeper for the German team. As is well known, Germany finished second in this tournament with Oliver Kahn being one of the best players. His father was extremely proud of him.

It goes without saying that it is a great honor for me to appear in a Hollywood movie. Of course, I would have liked to play my character myself, but the producers had doubts about my acting skills. So, they assigned the role to Hape Kerkeling, which admittedly proved an excellent choice. Hape has the same sense of humor as I. For preparation, he and I had a long briefing, in the course of which I taught him the basics of cryptology.

The highlight of the film is without any doubts my presentation at the NSA Crypto History Conference 2015, when I used Lego models to illustrate a number of criminal cases that involve unsolved cryptograms. Here’s a photo from the original talk:


For the movie scene, Hape Kerkeling used my original slides. His version of the presentation was stand-up comedy at its best.

The David Kahn Story had its world premiere in New York City on March 23, 2018. The German start is scheduled for May 7. If you have seen the film please leave a note. I would like to read as many reader opions as possible. And still I hope that The David Kahn Story will be the start of my Hollywood career.

Further reading: The film “Peter Rabbit” and its relationship to crypto history

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Kommentare (19)

  1. #1 HF(de)
    1. April 2018

    I wish you the very best for your Hollywood career!!

  2. #2 LMAO
    1. April 2018

    April Fool’s!

  3. #3 Rich SantaColoma
    1. April 2018

    Klaus! I was lucky to get into the March 23 premiere, but it was standing room only by the time I got in. A very exciting and thought provoking film. And I think Hape did a great job portraying you, but I worry he took his role too far, as I hear he has now started his own cipher history blog.

    But they say, “Life imitates art”… or maybe I have that backwards?

  4. #4 Thomas
    1. April 2018

    Oh Hape, great actor. Wasn´t it him who presented your first crypto challenge on TV some years ago? I remember very well the intriguing “HURZ”-cryptogram, which was a milestone in musical ciphers. Now it is time to publish the solution, Klaus!

  5. #5 Michael
    1. April 2018

    Just use the code word “LIRPA” for decrypting the message!

  6. #6 RPGNo1
    1. April 2018

    April, April! 😀
    Nicht schlecht gemacht. Kleiner Tipp für das nächste Mal: Es sollten Schauspieler gewählt werden, die auch tatsächlich noch aktiv sind. Hape und Sean Connery haben sich aus der Öffentlichkeit zurückgezogen. 😉

  7. #7 Klaus Schmeh
    1. April 2018

    Reto Bachmann via Faccebook:
    Gratulation lieber Klaus, wohlverdient! Hätte Dich gerne im Film gesehen, aber okay Hape ist sicher eine gute Wahl

  8. #8 Klaus Schmeh
    1. April 2018

    Carl Karas via Facebook:
    Wow! What a cast! Looking forward to seeing it.

  9. #9 Klaus Schmeh
    1. April 2018

    Nils Kopal via Facebook: Actually making a movie about David Kahn would be a really good idea

  10. #10 Klaus Schmeh
    1. April 2018

    @Thomas, Michael:
    The HURZ cryptogram is still unsolved. I will soon introduce it in my top 50 series.

  11. #11 Klaus Schmeh
    1. April 2018

    >I was lucky to get into the March 23 premiere
    I know. After all, you appear in the movie, too. Your discussion with David about the Voynich Manucript is a real highlight.

  12. #12 Klaus Schmeh
    1. April 2018

    >Hape und Sean Connery haben sich aus der
    >Öffentlichkeit zurückgezogen.
    Für dieses tolle Filmprojekt haben sich beide zu einem Comeback entschieden.

  13. #13 RPGNo1
    1. April 2018

    @Klaus Schmeh

    Für dieses tolle Filmprojekt haben sich beide zu einem Comeback entschieden.

    Ah, ok. *wink, wink*

  14. #14 Klaus Schmeh
    1. April 2018

    Thomas Riepe via Facebook:
    Hape Kerkeling ist ja auch ein Witzbold, das passt offenbar.

  15. #15 George Keller
    1. April 2018

    Klaus, You are a great crypto genius, but you can’t keep a secret, the news about the movie has been out for months, one of my friends at CBS informed me about it and I actually auditioned for the part but I was told I wasn’t good looking enough. They were going to give the part to Arnold Schwartzenegger but he has not been feeling too well lately.


    George Keller

  16. #16 The_Piper
    2. April 2018

    Oli Kahn, der Sohn von David Kahn.

    Ja, ne, is klar 😀

    Frohe Ostern an alle!

  17. #17 Gerhard F. Strasser
    2. April 2018

    Ja, Klaus – welche eine Überraschung am Ostersonntagmorgen! Ich habe sofort die fantastische Ankündigung (vollen Ernsts) an meine Frau weiter geleitet, die mich vor Begeisterung anrief – bis mir im Telefonat der 1. April einfiel … . Großartig zusammengebastelt, noch besser präsentiert! (Da ich Oliver Kahns Bruder mal kennenlernte, konnte ich mir “vor meiner Erleuchtung” nicht vorstellen, dass David gleich zwei so stattliche Söhne nach Deutschland geschickt hätte …)
    Einfach toll – beste April-Grüße

  18. #18 Jerry McCarthy
    England, Europa
    2. April 2018

    Bin ich auch in diesem Film? Vielleicht könnte Kenneth Branagh meine Rolle spielen 🙂

  19. #19 Klaus Schmeh
    7. April 2018

    Ron Lawrence via Facebook:
    Too bad it’s not real, it’d make a great movie.