“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