Real-Life Madison In ‘Hit Man’ (2024): Did Gary Marry Maddy Masters?


Hit Man, directed by Richard Linklater, is inspired by an article written by Skip Hollandsworth, in which he documents the fascinating life of an undercover agent named Gary Johnson. The plan of the Houston County District Attorney was quite simple: they couldn’t arrest people just for thinking about committing a crime, so they made sure that they acted on it. While pretending to be a professional hitman Gary met these potential criminals, and more than often, these people told him bluntly what they wanted. The moment a person gave money, it became easy for the prosecution to prove in court that there was actus rea on their part. Though the film is inspired by true events, there were things that were dramatized, and the makers took creative liberties. The character of Madison “Maddy” Masters, who came to Johnson to get rid of her husband, can be said to be inspired by a couple of people whom Johnson met while he was working in the district attorney’s office and acting as a hitman. 

Gary, in the year 1989, met a woman named Kathy Scott in Houston. Kathy was just sick and tired of her husband, and though it had been only 4 months of marriage, she wanted to get rid of him. Generally, whenever anybody wanted to hire a hitman, they asked people who they believed had some knowledge about the underworld. That’s why bartenders, escorts, drug dealers, and many other people involved in such professions, where they met with a lot of people on a day-to-day basis, were asked these questions. In Kathy’s case, she contacted a bail bondsman, who then informed the police about it. Gary was informed by his seniors that he would have to play the part, meet the woman, and try to get incriminating evidence against her. Gary met the woman, and she told him how her husband questioned her on every little thing she did. Kathy said that she was sick and tired of her nagging husband, and she wanted to get a permanent solution for it. Also, she was quite interested in the insurance money that she was supposed to get in case of her husband’s death. We saw in Hit Man that even Madison’s husband, Ray Masters, who worked in the family’s oil and gas business, had invested quite a lot in the insurance policy. I believe the makers of the film left it at the discretion of the viewers to decide if the insurance policy in question could have been one of the contributing reasons for the murder. Though Madison was not really shown to be a greedy person, the fact that money was involved in the scheme of things made me draw a comparison between the character and the real-life Kathy Scott. 

Gary Johnson met with another person that I believe is a more direct inspiration for the character of Madison Figueroa Masters who lived in New Orleans. Gary got to know about an anonymous woman (in real life) who apparently wanted to get her boyfriend killed. Gary always did background research on the person, and so this time too, he looked for any kind of information he could get his hands on about the woman. Gary found out that she was actually physically and mentally abused by her boyfriend. That woman had been in an abusive relationship for a very long time, but she never found the courage to speak about it to anybody. She knew what the consequences could be if her boyfriend found out about it. She was petrified of that man, probably because she knew what he was capable of. I don’t know if the first visit in real life actually happened as it is shown in the film, but the makers have pretty much captured the essence of the real-life person and what her mental state was at that point in time.

In Hit Man, we saw that Gary felt sympathetic towards Madison, and he explicitly told her to use the money she was supposed to give him and start a new life. Madison and Gary met once again when the former called him to a dog show. Gary and Madison struck a chord, and that night the former decided that instead of exposing his real self, he would pretend to be Ron, the cool gun for hire. Gary fell for Madison, and he believed that their little secret wouldn’t come out in the open, but there was a twist in the narrative that changed everything. Madison killed her husband, and Gary got to know about it when his department briefed him on the matter and asked him to initiate an investigation. In reality, nothing of that sort happened, but Gary did connect with the social service agencies and asked them to help the woman. It could be speculated that that one time, Gary felt that it wasn’t fair to put that woman behind bars. She was actually suffering, and she wanted to kill her boyfriend because she was done living in fear. She wanted to end her misery, and she felt that there was no other way out of the problem other than getting him killed. 

There is no evidence to prove that Gary fell in love with the woman, as is shown in the film. Also, Gary never killed anyone in real life and he never got romantically involved with that woman, though he was married three times. The people who knew Gary believed that though he was a people’s person, there was a side to him that he didn’t reveal in front of everybody. Gary treasured his own personal space, and maybe it was one of the reasons why he could never have a long-term relationship with anyone.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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