The director of The Devil’s Double talks about the film’s genesis, casting Dominic Cooper as Saddam Hussain’s son and shooting on digital.
How did you come to the film?
Recently I found out that it was initially a Danny Boyle project. We have the same agent. He brought it to me and I then met Dutch financiers, Canal Plus and other backers back in 2006. But it went through various financing problems, fell apart and then was picked up by Paul Breuls, which was great because no one else had the courage to run with it. It’s a type of freeform screenplay; you need to interpret it in order to film it.
So you had more leeway to experiment with the material?
Yes, it’s half way between writing and another form. Michael Thomas has written great stuff before but he wanted to break out on this and go a little mad. The script is not written in a conventional manner, which frightened people off.
Why was Dominic Cooper right for the part?
I wanted to go with someone who was on the way up, someone trained at a top school, someone whose expertise I could count on. On a technical level I needed someone who was flawlessly able to jump between two characters at the drop of a hat and enjoy the process. In some ways I wanted to do the picture in Arabic but that would have been a really hard sell. I said to Dominic “you have to pull this off or we’re sunk”, and of course he did.
What interested you about this period?
I was more interested in this story than anything to do with the Gulf War. The five or six movies I’ve seen which deal with the conflict tend to be the same story and I have a personal and political view diametrically opposed to that story. But that didn’t interfere with this piece. This is about a criminal regime and gangsters. Paul and I discussed this. And we didn’t want to get caught up in all the other Iraq war films.
How was your first experience shooting a feature on the Red One Camera?
I like new technology. I’m pretty much over film. A lot of DPs tried to talk me out of it so I had to find the right one. I’m not going back. It’s a post production camera so everything you watch on the dailies looks grim but I don’t care because I know it will all be fixed in post; it’s part of a manipulative editorial process that I love.