Dominic Cooper as Uday Hussein
By: Damon Wise
As The Hurt Locker gears up for the Oscars and Green Zone nears release, a new kind of Iraq movie is being filmed in Malta, one with a very different focus. Starring An Education’s Dominic Cooper in a dual role, The Devil’s Double tells the true story of Latif Yahia, an Iraqi soldier who was forced to become a stand-in/decoy for Uday Hussein, the insane son of ruling tyrant Saddam.
Set in 1987, the film promises to be a middle-eastern Scarface-style gangster thriller, in which Yahia is thrown headlong into a world of outrageous opulence and raw, vicious violence – although, in this case, the fiction might not quite match the truly absurd reality. “We’re telling a soft story compared to what I’ve heard about this guy,” says director Lee Tamahori, who knows this turf, having helmed the OTT Bond movie Die Another Day and the gritty Kiwi gang drama Once Were Warriors. The gangster element, however, is just one element of the story being told here. “Everybody likes gangsters,” says Tamahori, “and there’s no doubt that Uday is gonna drive right over the top of the story, but at the core we have an innocent man, a kidnapped soldier, who’s been dragged into this situation, which is equally compelling. So you’ve got these two characters playing off each other.
“On the one hand, it’s about a guy, Uday, who’s in love with himself. He has a mad, Oedipal complex – his father doesn’t love him, and we all know who his father is! He can’t have the respect that he wants from his father, and he’s wildly out of control: guns, money, women, death. There’s something extremely volatile about that. And then we’ve got this other guy, Latif, who came into this situation as an innocent and actually got himself out of it. So it’s about an innocent man being dragged into a hellish environment, trying to maintain a decency and an equilibrium, then trying to escape from it.”
We can expect to see the finished Devil’s Double sometime late this year or early next.