The current movie Duplicity, a sweeping international spy comedy-drama starring Clive Owen and Julia Roberts, has a special surprise for us about halfway through.
In a New York bar, Owen, as the pleasantly unscrupulous Ray Koval, sidles up to a blonde, carefully knocks over her appletini to get her attention, and, for a moment, he drops his British accent.
“Well, I woke up in Knoxville, I’m supposed to be sleeping in Belgium, and here I am in New York....”
It’s fun to hear us mentioned in connection to international espionage for maybe the first time. And to hear Knoxville mentioned without an identifying state—as if it’s a place spies, and movie audiences, have maybe heard of.
As it turns out, this spy wasn’t actually in Knoxville but is trying to make friends with an innocent-looking woman who, as he apparently knows, has Tennessee connections. Played by Carrie Preston, she’s Barbara Bofferd, an apparently unsophisticated mid-level corporate executive from the fictional town of Bofferd, Tenn., “in the western part of the state.” Koval claims to know that town. He makes efficient use of her, greatly annoying Roberts’ character.