The Little Drummer Girl: author John le Carré cameos as Austrian waiter in episode 3

The novelist John le Carré has made his traditional cameo following on from his appearance as an angry diner in The Night Manager

John le Carre in The Little Drummer Girl

The Little Drummer Girl episode three sees Charlie (Florence Pugh) calls out her drinks order as she strides towards an Austrian café.


“Ein Slivovitz,” repeats the elderly waiter, getting up from his table and heading inside to fetch her a glass of plum brandy.

The waiter is none other than John le Carré, creator of this entire story.

The novelist has made a tradition of appearing in the TV and movie versions of his spy thrillers. Fans of The Night Manager will remember him as an outraged diner being pacified by Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston).

He’s also popped up in the film adaptation Our Kind of Traitor (as a museum guard) and the 2011 movie version of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (as a Christmas party guest).

“What a treat to spend a day with him on set, in between takes,” Alexander Skarsgård said. “What a life that man has had. His stories are extraordinary.”

John Le Carre Drummer Girl

Previously, le Carré actually managed to bag himself an extended cameo in The Night Manager by going off script, and it sounds as though he tried to do the same in The Little Drummer Girl.

Unfortunately it didn’t work this time around; in the final cut, he only gets one line. But the B-roll sounds excellent.

“He’s a better actor than I am!” Skarsgård laughed before the series premiere. “He was really good. It was all in German: he’s obviously fluent in German, of course he is.”

“He stole the scene for sure,” he added, “stole the whole thing. He was just going to serve my coffee but it ended up being a long German monologue.”

John Le Carre in The Little Drummer Girl

This is not the first time we’ve seen le Carré acting alongside a Skasgård. In 2015, Alexander Skarsgård’s father Stellan Skarsgård starred in the movie Our Kind of Traitor

“He was obsessed with The Spy Who Came In From The Cold when he was a teenager,” Alexander Skasgård said of his father. “My grandfather gave my dad The Spy Who Came In From The Cold when he was 14, and that was his first real great novel that he read.

“He was obsessed with John le Carré, and got to meet him and had dinner with him here in London when Dad was shooting Our Kind Of Traitor, and he turned into such a little fanboy. It was very sweet to see Dad after that, the way his eyes just lit up when he talked about what a fascinating man he is – and I got to spend a day with him!”

John le Carre in The Little Drummer Girl

Florence Pugh also spent the day with him when he arrived for his cameo in the last week of shooting.

“I’d done all six episodes, and I’d been Charlie for five months, and then I met him and I was like: ‘Oh God! What if I’ve done a bad job and it’s too late now?'” she said.

“So I didn’t ask him what he thought because there was just no point. But I think I’ve done all right; he says that he’s happy, but I don’t think he’ll ever be happy. Do you know what I mean? When you’re the creator of that many characters, I’m sure that everybody gets something wrong. So I just am glad that I got to be Charlie and he didn’t hate me for it!”

The Little Drummer girl - Park Chan-wook, John Le Carre and Florence Pugh

The Little Drummer Girl continues on Sundays on BBC1


This article was originally published on 11 November 2018

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