The5-minute Interview: Eric O'Neill, Former FBI agent

'It surprised me to sit in a screening room and see a film about me'
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The Independent Online

Eric O'Neill, 34, is a former FBI agent who helped convict Robert Hanssen, another bureau agent, of spying for the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Ryan Phillippe portrays O'Neil in a new film, 'Breach', which is released today

If I weren't talking to you right now I'd be...

Probably working in my law firm. We're currently working on a Liability Protection Safety Act, which is to help people against terrorism.

A phrase I use far too often...

Maybe I have tendency to say "catch you later". Those were the last words I said to Hanssen.

I wish people would take more notice of...

What's going on in Darfur for example, but that's an easy answer, as is the environment. I wish we would take more notice of the way people treat others.

The most surprising thing that happened to me...

Sitting in a screening room and watching a movie about me. It still shocks me. Ryan Phillippe is impressive but I still find it strange people calling him Eric.

A common misperception of me is...

The most common one is I was the one who completely took down Hanssen. The truth is there was a team. I was the face and the guy who had to keep it together with Hanssen. In the beginning, there were about a dozen others but later there were hundreds.

I am not a politician but...

If I was, I would want to be a senator because they have an immeasurable amount of ability to change things, debate and legislate.

I'm good at...

Just about anything I put my mind to. That sounds immodest but I'm good at things that interest me. The things I'm best at are what I was doing for the FBI: quick story-making, hiding who you are etc.

I'm very bad at...

Anything that doesn't interest me. If I don't have an interest I don't put the energy into it. I'm also very bad at Rollerblading, which is unfortunate because my wife loves it.

My philosophy is this...

Find something you like and do it better than anyone else. Make sure you enjoy it and it doesn't take the place of living your life. Put the things that matter first and make the job come second.

Julia Lindquist

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