Molly’s Game tells the real-life story of athlete turned celebrity and billionaire poker-game hostess, Molly Bloom. When Molly first begins running poker games in Los Angeles, many of the players are drawn to the game by the constant presence of a movie star identified only as “Mr. X.”
The movie never names Mr. X, leaving viewers to wonder which high-profile movie star played at Molly’s table. Who was Mr. X in real life? Did he really exist? Yes, he existed, although, to some degree, he may be a composite character with some fictionalized elements.
The actress Jessica Chastain plays Bloom, who was dubbed the “poker princess” for the high-stakes games she ran in L.A. and New York City before running afoul of the FBI. In the movie, Molly refuses to “name names” and reveal which high-profile players sat at her table.
Vulture names the name the movie wouldn’t. “…now it’s kind of an open secret that ‘Player X’ is Tobey Maguire,” the site alleged in a story that recounts an interview with the actual Molly Bloom. The Ringer also theorizes that the character is based on Maguire, writing, “Reading the book and watching the movie, it’s pretty easy to determine that Player X is actually the OG Spider-Man, Tobey Maguire.”
However, that doesn’t mean that Maguire did and said everything in real life that you see in the movie. For example, a different player took the L.A. game from Bloom, not Maguire, reports Time Magazine, although, “Maguire plays the biggest role in Bloom’s memoir, and there appear to be elements of him in ‘Player X,’ played by Michael Cera in the movie.”
As the AV Club noted, “It’s not clear if Cera’s character is based on a specific celeb, or if he’s intended as a composite character, but it certainly sounds like he might be acting as a stand-in for Tobey Maguire. The former Spider-Man is mentioned several times in Bloom’s book, and has a notorious reputation as Hollywood’s most dangerous poker player, reportedly winning hundreds of thousands from hapless hedge fund managers.”
The Observer detailed revelations about Maguire that Bloom alleged in her book, Molly’s Game: High Stakes, Hollywood’s Elite, Hotshot Bankers, My Life in the World of Underground Poker. Among them: That Maguire was the “best player” but “worst tipper;” that he brought vegan snacks to the games; and that he allegedly “was such a dominant player that he fretted that other players would suspect that the dealer was intentionally dealing favorable cards to Mr. Maguire, in order to curry favor with an a-list actor at the pinnacle of his career. To avoid anyone thinking that a dealer was cheating on his behalf, Mr. Maguire bought a casino-grade automatic shuffler called the ShuffleMaster.” He’s also accused of once ordering Bloom to bark like a seal that wants fish.
According to Time Magazine, the director Aaron Sorkin “doesn’t name the celebrity players who frequented Bloom’s game in the film, but Bloom does identify some of them in her book, including Ben Affleck, Tobey Maguire and Leonardo DiCaprio. However, she only names people who had already been exposed in the media before her book hit shelves, protecting other players from exposure.” In addition, alleged Daily Mail, Bloom’s real-like poker games “attracted Hollywood heavyweights such as Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon.” Alex Rodriguez, of the Yankees, was also allegedly in attendance at Bloom’s games, but the book describes him as watching them instead of playing. The movie refers to a Yankee player without naming him.
“I used to call Tobey ‘Hannibal Lecter’ because he could just talk someone off of a good hand,” Bloom said, according to ABC News.
Vanity Fair excerpted Bloom’s book. “Luring A-list names (‘Tobey,’ ‘Leo,’ ‘Ben’) and taking home upwards of $50,000 in one night, Bloom writes that the biggest winners could be the most difficult,” Vanity Fair reported. The excerpt also provides this anecdote: “Recalling a big game she organized for ‘Ben’ at Bungalow No. 1 at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Bloom writes that with more than $2 million on the table early in the evening, she quickly had ‘a humongous poker game’ going.”
The movie is not entirely factual. For example, Bloom did not suffer the bad fall while skiing that sets up her character’s dramatic arc. It’s true she was an Olympic-level skier, however. She retired after winning a bronze medal, according to Time Magazine. The lawyer played by Idris Alba is a fictional character.