Is Emilia Clarke’s Above Suspicion Based on a True Story?

The character of Emilia Clarke in Above Suspicion is based on the True story of a woman known as Susan Smith, who was an FBI Informant. The 2023 film detailed how she fell in love with an FBI Agent known as Mark Putnam, who had an affair with her before killing her.

The actual events surrounding the story of Susan Smith happened between the late 1980s, when the path between the informant and the FBI agent crossed, and the early 1990s, when he was sentenced for her murder. Their story was captured in Joe Sharkey’s book of the same title.

Is Above Suspicion a Real Story or Based on a Book?

Above Suspicion is based on a true story captured in a non-fiction book by Joe Sharkey before it was later adapted into a film.

The work tells the story of Susan Smith, a young woman in her mid-20s hired by an FBI agent, Mark Putnam, to serve as an informant. Originally from Lexington, Kentucky, Mark was sent to Pikeville to carry out an investigation on a man said to be involved in a bank robbery, Carl Edward Lockhart.

Susan was happy to be involved in the case, and somehow, she became very close to Mark’s wife and family. As the investigation progressed, Susan and Mark soon got into a relationship that lasted a while before Mark was moved to Miami to handle a different case after rounding up the initial.

It was while he was there that he got to know that Susan was pregnant, and she insisted it was his. The FBI agent returned to Pikeville to iron out the issue, but his former lover insisted he was the one responsible and she would let everyone know. Mark knew that this may cast a dent in his picture-perfect marriage.

Putnam asked for a paternity test before suggesting that he was going to adopt the child. This got Susan outraged, and the former lovers got into an altercation that came to an end, with Mark strangling Susan on June 8, 1989.

Mark would keep Susan’s body in the trunk of his car until the next day when he dumped the body, where it remained undiscovered for 12 months. The crime would have remained unknown, but Putnam came forward and confessed to the crime. He pleaded guilty and was given 16 years behind bars but was freed in 2000 after 10 years for being a model prisoner.

Who Were the Real People in Above Suspicion?

There are several real-life people who are also captured in the film, apart from Susan Smith, who is represented by Emilia Clarke, and Mark Putnan, whose character is played by Jack Huston. Here are the other cast members after Putnam and Smith.

1. Kathy Putnam

Kathy Putnam is yet another real-life person represented in the film. Played by Sophie Lowe, Born Kathleen Eunice Ponticelli on January 6, 1960, she was the wife of Mark Putnam.

Even after the affair her husband had, and that he was locked up for 16 years, Kathy still remained solid beside her husband, so much so that she moved with her children to be close to him. 6 years into the prison term of Mark, Kathy died suddenly as a result of organ failure due to alcohol abuse.

2. Cash – Johnny Knoxville

Cash is represented in the film by Johnny Knoxville, and he played the character of Kenneth Smith, the real-life husband of Susan Smith. Cash was a drug dealer who got married to Susan when she was 15 while he was 22. Cash’s dealing with drugs, and the fact that the pair abused different substances caused a severe strain in their marriages that led to divorce. Nonetheless, they still lived together.

3. Jolene

Thora Birch – Jolene’s place in Above Suspicion is Susan’s sister, Shelby Ward. She was the first person who realized that her sister had gone missing. She informed the police, and that was how an investigation began. After Mark confessed and was sentenced to 16 years behind bars, Shely and her other family members insisted that Putnan did not kill Susan because of the pregnancy claim but rather because he was trying to hide much bigger crimes.

4. Joe B

Joe B – Karl Glusman Playing the character of Joe B, also known as Joseph Beauregard Reevis, in the film is Karl Glusman. Joe B, who stood in as Carl Edward “Cat Eyes” Lockhart, was the bank robber who Mark Putnam came to Kentucky to investigate. Because Cat Eyes was very close to Kenneth Smith, it was easy for Susan to infiltrate and assist Putnam in completing the arrest of Cat Eyes. He was subsequently slammed with 45 years behind bars

5. Randy McCoy – Austin Hebert

There is also Randy McCoy, whose character is portrayed by Austin Hebert. The representation of his character is not clear, but it is believed to be that of a deputy sheriff, Albert “Bert” Hatfield, who was very close to Susan Smith. The discrepancy between Bert in real life and in the movie is that while in the film there is the suggestion that he might not have known her personally, in real life, he knew her and even suggested her to Putnam.

Who is The Real Susan Smith from Above Suspicion?

The real Susan Smith, who Emila Clackson represented in the book as well as the film Above Suspicion, was born Susan Daniels Smith in 1961. She was brought up in a large family with 8 siblings by her parents, Sidney Daniels and Tracy Daniels.

She got her education at Freeburn Grade School, but she did not complete her education. Susan had to leave when she was in grade 7 as a result of issues relating to family finances.

As indicated, she was later married to Kenneth Smith, with whom she had two kids before the marriage ended in divorce. The marriage crashed even before Mark surfaced in the picture. Ultimately, however, it was her relationship with him that led to her sad demise on 8 June 1989.

Above Suspicion Movie Cast

Scripted by Chris Gerolmo and directed by Phillip Nyce, the 2022 crime thriller film has some well-known cast members as well as crew members. Here are some of the major names you will find among the cast of the movie:

  • Emilia Clarke – Susan Smith
  • Jack Huston – Mark Putnam
  • Sophie Lowe – Kathy Putnam
  • Johnny Knoxville – Cash
  • Austin Hébert – Randy McCoy
  • Thora Birch – Jolene
  • Karl Glusman Karl Glusman – Joe B
  • Kevin Dunn – Bob Singer
  • Brian Lee Franklin – Rufus
  • Omar Benson Miller – Denver Rhodes
  • Chris Mulkey – Todd Eason
  • Brittany O’Grady – Georgia
  • Luke Spencer Roberts – Bones
  • Lex Kelli – Susan’s Daughter
  • Landon Durrence – Susan’s Son (Landon Elijah Durrence)
  • Nettie Kraft – Joe Bea’s Mother (Nettie Mae Kraft)
  • Taxo Michaels – Bumpy
  • Joshua Mikel – Ricky
  • Katie Campbell – Female Teller
  • Colleen Camp – Jolene’s Customer
  • Daniel R. Hill – Stan Jones
  • Jim Klock – FBI Lawyer
  • Louie Lawless – Court Clerk
  • Lance E. Nichols – Agent Baumgarten
  • Valerie Payton – Counter Woman
  • Frank Hoyt Taylor – Matt Boylan
  • Robert C. Treveiler – Murph (Robert Treveiler)

Is Above Suspicion on Netflix?

As it stands, Above Suspicion is not available on many subscription streaming services, but you will only find it streaming on Netflix USA. However, depending on your location, you may not access crime thriller films on Netflix, where one can watch many other crime thriller films one can watch.

Where to Watch Above Suspicion

While it is not available on Above Suspicion, there are several other places where one can either buy or rent. Among them are video-on-demand platforms like Google Play, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Apple TV, Microsoft, and Amazon Prime.

It is important to point out that some of these shows can only be accessed based on geographical location on various streaming platforms.


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