clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
2023 MTV Video Music Awards - Arrivals

Filed under:

Why do people think Taylor Swift secretly wrote Henry Cavill’s new spy movie?

It’s unclear whether Argylle author Elly Conway is even real

Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

If you buy something from a Polygon link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Petrana Radulovic is an entertainment reporter specializing in animation, fandom culture, theme parks, Disney, and young adult fantasy franchises.

Argylle is an upcoming spy movie from Kingsman director Matthew Vaughn, starring Bryce Dallas Howard and Henry Cavill. It’s out in February and based on a forthcoming novel by debut author Elly Conway. And, oh yeah, a lot of people think that Elly Conway doesn’t exist and is actually the pen name of international pop superstar Taylor Swift.

You might be asking yourself: Where did this fan theory come from? Well, TikToker jessicalynnslocum posted a couple of videos explaining just why she, and many others in the Taylor Swift “clowning” community, are absolutely convinced that Elly Conway is secretly one of Taylor Swift’s pseudonyms. The theory is just plausible enough to take off on TikTok, as this wouldn’t be the first time Swift collaborated on a project under a fake name; she co-wrote the 2016 song “This Is What You Came For” with then-boyfriend Calvin Harris under the pseudonym Nils Sjöberg. The reasons for this Argylle fan theory are numerous, but a lot of them can be boiled down to the fact that no one knows who the hell Elly Conway is.

Making a whole movie or TV show based on a book that hasn’t come out yet isn’t common, but it isn’t unheard of. This season of American Horror Story, for instance, is based on a book that wasn’t out when the season was announced. What is a little more uncommon is having a fictional version of the author appear in the movie, especially given how little information there is about the author. But it could also be a Lemony Snicket sort of situation, where the “author” of the book is a character themselves, and the book is actually written by someone else (or a team of someone elses — ghostwriters are common in the publishing industry!).

And a lot of Taylor Swift fans are convinced that the someone else behind Elly Conway is Taylor Swift herself. After all, the singer is known for her Easter eggs, and fans latch onto the smallest details in hopes they will find all the clues and predict the star’s latest big announcement. This time around is no different, though let’s just say some of the theories are more compelling than others. (Polygon has also reached out to Penguin Random House for comment and will update this story when we hear back.)

All of the ‘evidence’ that Taylor Swift wrote Argylle, rated

Taylor Swift holds a pink guitar and looks up to the crowd away from her mic during Taylor Swift The Eras Tour at SoFi Stadium on August 3, 2023 in Inglewood, California Photo: Emma McIntyre/TAS23/Getty Images

The fictional version of Elly Conway as seen in the Argylle trailer has red hair: Now, Swift is blond, but the version of her in the “All Too Well” short film — who is also an author — has red hair. I could maybe see this connection, especially since Swift directed the “All Too Well” film and is set to direct a feature for Searchlight Pictures. 6/10

In the movie, Elly Conway carries her cat around in a backpack similar to Taylor Swift’s: This is a quirky backpack and definitely idiosyncratic, though it’s not completely unique to Swift (for instance, I own a similar one, though I’ve never actually trekked in public with it). However, it is a very specific Swiftisim. 6/10

The cat is a Scottish Fold: Swift is an avid cat-lover and she owns three cats, two of which are Scottish Folds. It could be that the choice of breed is intentional… or it could be that director Vaughn and his wife Claudia Schiffer also own a Scottish Fold named Chip and that made it the most available breed. 4/10

A Scottish Fold in an argyle printed backpack. Image: Universal Pictures

Swift has worn numerous argyle sweaters — and sold one as a piece of merch: It is not exactly quite the same argyle pattern, but considering her fondness for the pattern, it seems likely that if she did write a book, it would incorporate the textile somehow! 7/10

Elly Conway is the name of an Australian soap opera character who debuted on Dec. 13 (Swift’s birthday): OK, this one is a little more compelling. If you search Elly Conway, the only real result you get is a character played by Jodi Gordon on Neighbours, a long-running Australian soap opera. She made her first appearance on Dec. 13, 2001. Neither Gordon nor the soap opera, however, seem to have any connection with Swift. But the date is significant enough to get a 7/10.

The movie comes out 2/2/24: I am admittedly not well-versed in Taylor Swift’s love for dates like these. But, many of the videos seem to really harp on this day — and it’s five days before Swift heads to Japan for the next leg of her tour. I’ll give it a 5/10, mostly because I’m not enough of an expert.

Elly Conway’s Instagram account is verified: It is not as hard to get verified on social media as most people think, and if you are the author (or in-universe character) of a soon-to-be-popular book turned movie, then it’s likely your publisher or production company could back you up to get verified. Honestly, it would be weirder if Elly Conway’s Instagram account wasn’t verified. This especially applies if Conway is a fictional character and a gimmick for the movie. Heck, Elmo has a verified account. 0/10

Her profile picture is a coffee cup: Allegedly, this is similar to the coffee cup seen in Midnights, with the spoon even pointing toward the midnight direction of a clock (kinda). But also, writers really like warm drinks! The writer in a coffee shop is a cliche at this point! 5/10

Image: Universal Pictures and Image: Taylor Swift Productions

Elly Conway follows an NYC cafe near Cornelia Street: Maybe this is Swift following her favorite cafe near her former Greenwich Village home. Maybe Elly Conway is one of the 8.468 million residents of New York City. Whatever the case, I couldn’t really find any evidence of Swift having any particular affinity for this cafe (even on this list of her favorite NYC restaurants). 3/10

Conway’s first post was on Swift’s birthday in 2022: This is perhaps the most compelling piece of evidence, because the book and movie were announced a full year and a half prior (in June 2021). No other news surrounding the movie or book was released on Dec. 13, 2022. 9/10

Elly Conway’s brief bio apparently states she lives in upstate New York: Conway’s official bio on various sites says that she was born and raised in upstate New York, which is heavily featured in “All Too Well” (and in the short film, Sadie Sink dons an argyle sweater in the upstate New York scenes). It should be noted that the only sites I could personally find that specifically mention “upstate New York” and not the more vague “somewhere in the United States” were non-U.S.-based sites, such as Penguin U.K. and the German Amazon page. The plot thickens… but is it enough? 4/10

Dua Lipa shared a post of Swift wearing a Versace necklace from her own collection: Dua Lipa is in the movie, so apparently any interaction with Swift is fodder for fans. But also, celebrities interact with each other all the time on social media. 3/10

Taylor Swift kneels on stage with a black and white projected image of herself behind her during Taylor Swift The Eras Tour at Levi’s Stadium on July 28, 2023 in Santa Clara, California Photo: Jeff Kravitz/TAS23/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

The Argylle logo looks like Taylor Swift’s earrings: Personally, besides the vague art deco of it, I don’t really see this one? 2/10

Swift’s Conway sweatshirt: Taylor Swift was spotted wearing a Conway Studios sweatshirt! Conway Recording Studios is a recording studio in LA, where Swift recorded 1989 and Red (Taylor’s Version), so it could just be coincidence. Or did she base the name of her pseudonym on her recording studio? 5/10

Chip the cat (the cat in the movie) made an Instagram post about a big announcement the day before the announcement of the Eras Tour movie: …and it was also the day before the first trailer for Argylle dropped. Considering the cat is owned by the director of the movie, Matthew Vaughn (and his spouse, Claudia Schiffer), that pretty much explains away the coincidence. -1/10

Chip the cat posted a picture of Claudia Schiffer as a cheerleader with a Taylor Swift caption: At this point, the cat (or rather Schiffer and Vaughn, who likely run his account) know about the whole conspiracy and could very well be playing along. So tagging Taylor Swift and posting pictures of her cats is a good way to keep the hype going. Unless, of course, it’s not just that… 3/10