Cherida Tankersley

Written by Cherida Tankersley

Modified & Updated: 02 Jun 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith


The Good Shepherd is a captivating film that delves into the intricate world of espionage and intelligence agencies. Directed by Robert De Niro and released in 2006, it shines a spotlight on the often secretive and complex operations of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Starring Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie, and Alec Baldwin, the movie takes viewers on a gripping journey through the Cold War era, spanning multiple decades and continents.

In this article, we will explore 50 fascinating facts about The Good Shepherd, shedding light on its production, cast, and the real-life inspirations behind the story. From the extensive research conducted by the filmmakers to the impressive performances by the actors, there are plenty of intriguing details waiting to be discovered. So, if you’re ready to dive deeper into the world of covert operations, sit back, relax, and let’s explore the secrets behind The Good Shepherd.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Good Shepherd is a spy thriller based on real CIA history, featuring Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie. It explores loyalty, sacrifice, and the moral dilemmas of espionage.
  • Despite mixed reviews, the film’s attention to detail and thought-provoking narrative make it a compelling look into the world of intelligence and the sacrifices made for national security.
Table of Contents

The Good Shepherd was released in 2006.

The spy thriller film, directed by Robert De Niro, hit the theaters on December 22, 2006.

It stars Matt Damon as the lead character.

Matt Damon portrays Edward Wilson, a Yale University student who is recruited by the CIA.

The movie is based on true events and historical figures.

The plot of The Good Shepherd takes inspiration from actual events related to the founding of the CIA and its early years.

Angelina Jolie plays the role of Edward Wilson’s wife.

Jolie plays Margaret “Clover” Russell, the wife of Damon’s character and the mother of their son.

It was nominated for an Academy Award.

The film received an Oscar nomination for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration.

The screenplay was written by Eric Roth.

Eric Roth, known for his work on Forrest Gump, penned the script for The Good Shepherd.

The movie has a star-studded cast.

Aside from Damon and Jolie, The Good Shepherd features actors such as Alec Baldwin, Billy Crudup, and Robert De Niro himself.

The film explores themes of loyalty and betrayal.

The Good Shepherd delves into the moral and ethical dilemmas faced by Edward Wilson as he navigates the world of espionage.

The movie has a nonlinear narrative structure.

The story unfolds through multiple flashbacks, revealing important events from Edward Wilson’s past.

The Good Shepherd received mixed reviews from critics.

While some praised its ambitious storytelling, others felt that the film lacked emotional depth.

The movie’s soundtrack was composed by Marcelo Zarvos.

Zarvos’ score adds to the tension and suspense of the film’s espionage plot.

The Good Shepherd was shot on location in various countries.

The film’s production took the crew to the United States, England, Canada, and the Dominican Republic.

The movie explores the origins of the CIA.

Through the eyes of Edward Wilson, viewers learn about the early days and founding principles of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Good Shepherd provides a fictionalized account of historical events.

While the film is inspired by real events, the story and characters are fictionalized for dramatic purposes.

Matt Damon underwent extensive research for his role.

The actor immersed himself in studying CIA history and practices to accurately portray Edward Wilson.

The film has a runtime of 167 minutes.

The Good Shepherd is a lengthy movie, allowing for a comprehensive exploration of its complex narrative.

The movie’s title refers to the concept of a “good shepherd” in biblical terms.

It symbolizes Edward Wilson’s role as a guardian and protector, leading his covert operations.

The Good Shepherd was not a major box office success.

Despite its star-studded cast and intriguing premise, the film failed to generate significant commercial success.

The movie explores the sacrifices individuals make in service to their country.

Edward Wilson’s dedication to the CIA comes at a personal cost, affecting his relationships and well-being.

The Good Shepherd features tense and suspenseful spy sequences.

The film’s espionage scenes add excitement and intrigue to the overall narrative.

The movie portrays a Cold War-era atmosphere.

The setting of The Good Shepherd captures the tension and paranoia of the Cold War era in the United States.

The film highlights the covert operations conducted by the CIA.

Viewers get a glimpse into the secretive and clandestine actions taken by the CIA during its early years.

The Good Shepherd explores themes of trust and deception.

Edward Wilson grapples with the challenge of deciphering who can be trusted in the world of espionage.

The movie received a 24% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Despite mixed reviews, The Good Shepherd garnered a lower rating on the popular review aggregator website.

The film’s production budget was approximately $90 million.

The Good Shepherd had a substantial budget, reflecting its grand scale and production values.

The movie’s costume design accurately reflects the time period.

The costumes in The Good Shepherd capture the fashion and style of the 1940s and 1950s.

The Good Shepherd was inspired by real-life CIA officers.

The characters in the film draw inspiration from actual CIA operatives who played important roles in shaping the agency.

The film’s intricate plot requires attention to detail.

The Good Shepherd weaves a complex narrative that demands the viewer’s full engagement.

The movie emphasizes the sacrifices made by intelligence operatives.

The characters in The Good Shepherd put their lives on the line for the sake of national security.

The film explores the personal toll of living a double life.

Edward Wilson’s commitment to the CIA takes a toll on his personal relationships and emotional well-being.

The movie’s cinematography is visually impressive.

The cinematographer captures the mood and atmosphere of the various settings, enhancing the overall viewing experience.

The Good Shepherd depicts the struggle between idealism and pragmatism.

Edward Wilson must navigate the complexities of the intelligence world while balancing his personal ideals.

The film’s screenplay underwent several revisions.

Eric Roth’s script went through multiple drafts to ensure the story was finely crafted.

The movie features flashbacks to Edward Wilson’s college years.

These flashbacks provide insight into the formative experiences that shaped the protagonist.

The Good Shepherd delves into the psychological toll of leading a double life.

Edward Wilson must grapple with the constant pressure and anxieties that come with his secret identity.

The film highlights the struggle for power within intelligence agencies.

The Good Shepherd explores the internal power dynamics and political maneuvering that occur within the CIA.

The movie’s plot includes intricate espionage tactics.

Viewers are exposed to the intricacies of spy craft, including code-breaking and covert operations.

The Good Shepherd is not a traditional action-packed spy thriller.

Instead, it focuses on the cerebral and psychological aspects of intelligence work.

The film’s production design accurately recreates the time period.

The attention to detail in the sets and props transports viewers back to the post-World War II era.

The movie explores the sacrifices required to protect national security.

Edward Wilson’s dedication to his country comes at great personal cost.

The Good Shepherd drew inspiration from historical CIA operations.

The film incorporates elements from real-life intelligence operations into its fictionalized plot.

The film addresses themes of secrecy and confidentiality.

The Good Shepherd highlights the importance of keeping information confidential in the world of intelligence.

The movie provides a glimpse into the early days of the intelligence community.

Viewers gain insight into how the CIA evolved and adapted in its early years.

The Good Shepherd received praise for its performances.

Matt Damon’s portrayal of Edward Wilson was recognized as a standout performance.

The movie’s narrative unfolds through a series of interconnected vignettes.

Each vignette provides a piece of the puzzle, gradually revealing the larger story.

The film explores the dark underbelly of intelligence operations.

The Good Shepherd delves into the moral compromises and ethical gray areas that come with intelligence work.

The movie showcases the evolution of intelligence-gathering techniques.

Edward Wilson and his colleagues employ a variety of methods to gather crucial information.

The Good Shepherd explores the personal sacrifices made for the greater good.

Edward Wilson’s dedication to his country often forces him to put his personal desires and relationships on hold.

The movie received an Academy Award nomination for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration.

The film’s attention to detail in recreating the time period earned it industry recognition.

The Good Shepherd continues to be viewed as a thought-provoking exploration of the intelligence world.

Even years after its release, the film remains a relevant examination of the sacrifices and challenges faced by spies and CIA officers.


The Good Shepherd is a captivating and intricate film that delves into the secretive world of espionage and the toll it takes on individuals and their relationships. With an all-star cast, brilliant direction, and a thought-provoking storyline, it stands as a testament to the complexity and sacrifices faced by those involved in intelligence operations.

The movie provides a deep and nuanced portrayal of the early years of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the challenges it faced in protecting the United States during the Cold War era. It showcases the morally ambiguous decisions made by its characters, blurring the lines between patriotism and personal sacrifice.

The Good Shepherd is a must-watch for fans of espionage thrillers, as it offers a unique perspective on the inner workings of intelligence agencies and the individuals involved. Its expert storytelling and masterful performances make it a timeless classic in the genre.


Q: Who directed The Good Shepherd?

A: The Good Shepherd was directed by Robert De Niro.

Q: When was The Good Shepherd released?

A: The movie was released on December 22, 2006.

Q: Who are the leading actors in The Good Shepherd?

A: The film features an ensemble cast including Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie, Alec Baldwin, and Robert De Niro.

Q: Is The Good Shepherd based on a true story?

A: While the movie is a work of fiction, it is inspired by real events and the early days of the CIA.

Q: What is the main theme of The Good Shepherd?

A: The film explores themes of loyalty, betrayal, patriotism, and the personal sacrifices made by individuals involved in intelligence operations.

Q: Is The Good Shepherd a suspenseful movie?

A: Yes, the movie is filled with suspense and keeps viewers on the edge of their seats with its intricate plot twists and turns.

Q: Can I watch The Good Shepherd with my family?

A: The Good Shepherd is rated R for its adult themes and violence, so it may not be suitable for young children.

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