Dominic Cooper Interview For ‘The Devil’s Double’
Baghdad 1987, Latif Yahia (Dominic Cooper) is taken to see his former schoolmate Uday (also played by Cooper), eldest son to Saddam Hussein. Latif is told that a great honour had been bestowed upon him: because of the great likeness between them, he has been chosen to be Uday’s ‘fiday’ – his body double. Trapped, tortured and fearful for the safety of his family Latif has no choice but to comply.
A chilling vision of the House of Saddam Hussein comes to life as Latif is forced to become part of Uday’s world, witness to the horror of his insane life of debauchery, excess and brutality. A world entrenched in betrayal and corruption and an experience for which he almost pays with his life on more than one occasion. ‘The Devil’s Double’ is set for release July 29th in the US, and August 12th in the UK. Check out what Dominic Cooper had to say about the film below.
How did you get involved with this project?
Dominic Cooper: It happens very rarely that your ears prick up about a certain project. I was just immediently drawn to it, I was determined to see it number one. Then I heard it might not be happening, everything wasn’t in place yet – but I really chased it, just because I instinctively thought it was a very exciting subject matter, one which we all know a little bit about, it’s very much in the recent past, but we don’t know enough about it. That intrigued me. I could instantly visualise it as a film. I thought it would be a huge challenge and a risk.
Did you know much about Uday Hussain before you read the script? What was it like playing someone like that?
Dominic Cooper: I have a very vague memory of him being around. I remember him being mentioned, I was aware Saddam had a son who was kind of even more brutal than himself. It was always this impending doom that maybe this man would take over Saddam’s regime. But beyond that I knew very little about him. I think that it’s quite dangerous for us to ever think that we are doing a biopic, we don’t know enough about him, what we do know is through word of mouth. We don’t know who exactly this person was, we have an idea of some of the things he got up to.
One of the things I spoke to director Lee Tamahori at length about, which I found very difficult to comprehend, was how you can play a part and not feel any empathy towards a person – I despised the man. There was nothing in him that I could latch onto and like. He’s brutal, I was continually shocked as we were working about his lack of morals. He was a playboy to the extreme, living in a world where he makes up the rules. There’s no authority stopping him. He has limitless funds, he takes endless amounts of drugs, he drives whatever cars he wants, he has access to absolutely anything he wants without anyone telling him to stop.
For me you done an astounding job in successfully sustaining the illusion of two distinct people…
Dominic Cooper: Thank you! There are little scenes we put in where Latif is practising speeches that he has to go and give to his soldiers. He almost does a better job than Uday. He really transforms, he hates himself for it. I hope these moments come across for people. He finds something within himself to turn into this guy who he despises. I suppose it’s his anger towards being in a situation that he doesn’t want to be in.
How was it playing the dual roles?
Dominic Cooper: Its been really interesting just doing the scenes from both angles, from both points of view, to see how they behave. It was a real learning curve to see how different characters do behave towards one another depending on the hierarchy, how much power and control they have.
Whoever these two people are, I wanted to make them very clearly, very different, as much as possible. It was about finding a certain stillness in Latif, whereas there’s a more manic physicality towards Uday. I worked a lot with our voice coach to find a different vocality for them both. With Latif I could speak to him and talk to him about who he is, I thought it was quite dangerous to reproduce who he was, I wanted to know his back-story, his feelings towards that particular time and what a kind of hellish situation he was forced into. He was a great help.
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