The Devil’s Double began as an astonishing autobiographical tale of the same name, written by Latif Yahia, who was ripped from his family and forced to become the fiday (which roughly translates to “bullet catcher”) for Saddam Hussein’s lunatic son Uday. The book was a glimpse into the deeply depraved web of fast cars, endless money, easy women, pure corruption and wanton violence in which Yahia was captive for years.
Once producers secured the rights to the book, enlisted screenwriter Michael Thomas (Scandal, Backbeat) to translate the story to film and found a director in Lee Tamahori (Once Were Warriors), they faced the challenge of casting. Both roles of the sadistic Uday Hussein, and Latif Yahia, the upstanding citizen soldier, would be played by one actor. The entire film hinges on this central performance, which is in fact not one, but three: the actor as Latif, as Uday and as Latif impersonating Uday and becoming more and more like him. It was a tall order to find someone for the role who had both the discipline to handle the demanding production and the range to make both characters credible. The filmmakers also set out to find someone who was relatively unknown, and would be able to fully disappear into the roles.
Dominic Cooper ended up being the man for the job. “[He] is stunning,” says Tamahori. “We found a young, versatile, clever, talented actor, who knocked our socks off as both Latif and Uday.”
The part marks Cooper’s feature-film lead debut, having played supporting roles in Mamma Mia! and An Education.
“For an actor,” says Cooper of his challenging performances in The Devil’s Double, “you can’t ask for more in terms of the range it asks of you to play two lead characters who are so utterly different, who sort of meet in the middle and then merge. I loved the exploration of how we can disguise ourselves and become something that we’re not, and how we are forever haunted by that thing we’d temporarily become.”
“The Devil’s Double” is available starting Nov. 18 on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.
© 2011 Lionsgate Entertainment