John Creasy is a character played by Denzel Washington in the movie Man on Fire, but is he based on a real person?
Some people have speculated that John Creasy might be an amalgamation of two different people.
One is Frank Horrigan from the book “The President’s Club” and Howard E. Wasdin who retired as a Navy SEAL Commander after serving with distinction for 23 years.
But which is which? Find out more in this post.
Is Man on Fire a True Story?
No. The movie is based on a 1980 thriller novel by the English novelist Philip Nicholson. The book ‘Man on Fire’ was published under his pseudonym, A. J. Quinnell.
While the movie isn’t based on a true story the main character John W Creasy was inspired by a person. Actually,
The protagonist in the film Man on Fire is John Creasy (Denzel Washington).
He was previously a CIA agent but has since retired from his job.
He had suffered an emotional breakdown caused by a personal tragedy for which he blames himself.
Later, Pita Ramos’ father offers him money to bodyguard her while she goes around Mexico City with him, and he accepts.
This is despite being emotionally broken inside.
As events unfold during their time together, we begin seeing glimpses of who did what before becoming a hermit at heart via flashbacks interspersed throughout the main storyline that unfolds.
Man on Fire – Frank Horrigan
The book “Man on Fire” is the basis for the film “Man on Fire”.
In this story, John Creasy suffers from a personal tragedy that renders him emotionally vulnerable.
He later lives in Mexico City and gets involved with Pita Ramos, who terrorists have kidnaped after she witnesses them killing her father.
The kidnappers have given an ultimatum to release some of their men in exchange for releasing Pita.
But it becomes clear that they are not going to adhere to these demands. Carl Strickland, a former CIA agent, approaches his old friend Frank Horrigan to rescue her.
He is cautious as he knows how much effort was needed to locate him.
And thus begins an emotional journey of rescuing the girl that is quite cathartic for Creasy.
John slowly begins to recover from his personal tragedy.
Man on Fire – Howard Wasdin
Howard E. Wasdin’s story unfolds in a similar manner.
He also goes through an emotionally trying period after realizing some things about himself and what led up to it during his time as a Navy SEAL serving at Mogadishu, Somalia (Black Hawk Down incident).
This leads him down the path of alcoholism.
Later, he earns an honorable discharge from service with PTSD or Post-traumatic stress disorder.
His condition includes suicidal thoughts. He then decides to change his life around by quitting drinking cold turkey when he wakes up with the urge to get a glass of whiskey one day.
He then decides that there is something seriously wrong and gets help from his wife.
She encourages him to see a psychiatrist where he starts on medication for PTSD, among other things.
Howard E. Wasdin
In real life, Frank Horrigan was based on Howard E. Wasdin, while John Creasy was loosely based on both men.
However, Creasy primarily drew inspiration from Howard E. Wasdin.
Many people have speculated about this over time since they both seem similar in many ways, besides their military backgrounds.
Is John W Creasy a Real Person?
Yes. John W Creasy is a fusion of two people, both operatives in the CIA and the military.
He was a mix of both men, while the character in Man on Fire is based primarily on Howard E. Wasdin.
You can see this through flashbacks and his time recovering from PTSD.
There is also some influence by Frank Horrigan who also helps rescue Pita along with him.
Horrigan helps since they are old friends, having previously served at Mogadishu, Somalia, during the Black Hawk Down incident.
This incident is where Horrigan lost most of his men to injuries or death.
This event traumatized him deeply.
But this does not stop them from being friends after all these years despite what happened there.
Indeed, the incident caused so many casualties among their team members back then.
He later gets involved when Carl Strickland approaches him about rescuing Pita.