Law in Popular Culture

I Was Tom Cruise Character in ‘A Few Good Men,’ Four Lawyers Say

  • Print

A former U.S. Attorney and a defense lawyer for a Connecticut triple murder suspect are among four lawyers who have claimed they were the inspiration for the Tom Cruise character in A Few Good Men.

Aaron Sorkin got the idea for the play and movie from his sister, Debbie, who represented a Marine in a court-martial at Guantanamo over a hazing incident when she was a military lawyer in the 1980s, the New York Times reports. Debbie Sorkin’s client, one of 10 Marines originally charged, did not go to trial. But lawyers for three Marines who did face trial have claimed to be at least partly the inspiration for Cruise’s character. So too has a lawyer for an officer blamed for indirectly ordering the hazing.

One of the lawyers is former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias of New Mexico, one of nine U.S. attorneys fired by then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in a move criticized as politically motivated. He has claimed the character was a composite based on him and two of the other lawyers.

Walter Bansley III is another lawyer claiming he inspired the role. He is now in the news as a defense lawyer for Joshua Komisarjevsky, a co-defendant accused of killing three family members in a Connecticut home invasion and triple murder. Bansley tells the Times that the movie studio asked him to review the scripts when the movie was being made. He also says a producer told him the film “was about me.”

Can these lawyers handle the truth? The Times contacted Aaron Sorkin to settle the dispute. His spokeswoman, Joy Fehily, offered this: “The character of Dan Kaffee in A Few Good Men is entirely fictional and was not inspired by any particular individual.”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.