New Regency chairman and Hollywood mega-producer Arnon Milchan is no stranger to gripping tales. He's the producer behind Twelve Years A Slave, Fight Club, and Pretty Woman, though its his own history as a secret arms dealer to Israel in the 1960s, that has box office gold written all over it.
As The Hollywood Reporter first reported, Milchan has finally confirmed his ties to the Israeli government as an arms dealer. A 2011 book, Confidential: The Life of Secret Agent Turned Hollywood Tycoon Arnon Milchan first investigated the long-standing rumors of Milchan's ties to the Israeli government, and detailed how Milchan was first recruited by Israeli politician and now-president Shimon Peres. Milchan was brought on by Peres to be a liaison to Lekem, the Bureau of Scientific Relations, dedicated to obtaining technology and material for Israel's nuclear program. Milchan did just that, and over the years, helped secure arms for a nation that was perenially at war during that time period.
Milchan, an Israeli citizen, lived his double life as a Lekem agent for multiple decades—drawing some suspicion in 1985 when a US aerospace engineer Richard Kelly Smyth was arrested for smuggling krypton to Israel through one of Milchan's companies. Though he never admitted to his connection to the Israeli government, even in the wake of Confidential being published, Milchan finally opened up to Israeli investigative journalism program Uvda to discuss the extent of his relationship with the Israeli government.
Milchan also shared that other notable Hollywood legends were involved in his arms dealership, some knowingly and others unknowingly. He alleges that Sydney Pollack was often helpful in arms acquisition, noting that Pollack could have said no to him many times, but did not. Less implict was Richard Dreyfuss, who Milchan used as a plant to recruit American scientist Arthur Biehl to his cause, by inviting Biehl to a dinner party that Dreyfuss was hosting.
When describing how he hid his clandestine life from his Hollywood peers, afraid that they wouldn't want to be associated with an arms dealer, Milchan has some choice words for his younger self: "I should have been aware of that [risking his life], of what I'll go through, and said 'Fuck you. You know what? I did it for my country, and I'm proud of it.'"