Is 'Hit Man' based on a true story? Fact checking Glen Powell's Netflix Gary Johnson movie

Netflix's "Hit Man" Storyline

Hit Man" is a romantic comedy starring Glen Powell as Gary Johnson, a real-life undercover police officer posing as a fake hitman. The movie is based on a 2001 Texas Monthly article by Skip Hollandsworth.

Co-Writers and Directors

Glen Powell co-wrote the movie alongside director Richard Linklater, aiming to create a role he believed he wouldn't otherwise receive in Hollywood.

Real-Life Inspiration

The movie is inspired by Gary Johnson, a mild-mannered professor who worked undercover for local law enforcement in Houston. He posed as a hitman for hire, assisting in the arrests of over 70 individuals seeking contract killers.

Fictional Elements

While the movie portrays Johnson falling in love with a woman seeking to kill her abusive husband, there is no evidence of this in real life. Johnson was mostly a soft-spoken loner and divorced three times.

Client Conversations

In the movie, Johnson talks clients out of ordering hits, emphasizing clarity of desire. However, in most cases, clients confirmed their intent to hire a killer, as detailed in the Texas Monthly article.

No Actual Murders

Contrary to the movie's plot, Gary Johnson never killed anyone. He was portrayed as a compassionate individual, with the movie highlighting his character as an animal-loving Buddhist and Vietnam War veteran.

Differences from Real-Life Events

The movie deviates from reality by depicting Johnson and his love interest killing a colleague who threatens to expose their actions. This dramatic twist is fictionalized for the movie's narrative.


Gary Johnson's real-life story serves as the basis for "Hit Man," but the movie takes creative liberties for entertainment purposes. Johnson passed away in 2022 before the movie's production, with the cause of death unknown.