Veteran Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan this week revealed that he worked for decades as a spy for Israel, confirming rumors that had been swirling for years. Milchan, 68, has produced more than 120 films over the course of his career, including Fight Club, Pretty Woman, and L.A. Confidential. A book published in 2011 claimed that Milchan worked in espionage and arms dealing for his native Israel, though the producer had never publicly addressed such reports until this week, when he described his secret work in an interview with Uvda, an Israeli investigative TV show.
Milchan told the program that he was recruited into Israel's Bureau of Scientific Relations in the 1960s at the urging of his friend Shimon Peres, the current Israeli president. He owned a fertilizer company at the time, and helped the bureau — which was founded to bolster Israel's nuclear program — to obtain scientific information.
"I did it for my country and I'm proud of it."
Milchan's work continued through the 1980s, and at one point, he was operating 30 companies in 17 countries on behalf of Israel. The government used his companies' bank accounts to arrange weapons-related purchases, Uvda reports, including helicopters and missiles. US officials indicted an executive at one of his companies in 1985, after the FBI discovered the firm provided nuclear triggers to Israel without licenses, though charges were eventually dropped.
Speaking to Uvda, Milchan said he has no regrets about his involvement with Israeli intelligence. "I did it for my country and I'm proud of it," he said.
The producer also said he collaborated on intelligence projects with the late director Sydney Pollack, whom he described as "my partner in export in aerospace, planes, all kinds of things." His only regret seems to be not addressing rumors of his spy work earlier in his career.
"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."