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Body of Lies in our magazines

THE MOVIE: Body of Lies

Leonardo DiCaprio • Russell Crowe • Mark Strong
DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott

Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio, connected by laptops THE CONCEPT:
Roger Ferris (DiCaprio), the best man US Intelligence has in Iraq, is on the trail of an emerging terrorist leader. Strategizing from a laptop in the States, Ed Hoffman (Crowe), a CIA veteran, is dictating Ferris’ every move. With Hoffman, and the wily, but suspect, Jordanian intelligence officer, Hani Salaam (Strong), assisting him, as Ferris gets closer to his target he questions if he can trust them or if they are putting his entire operation, and his life, in danger.

U.S. RELEASE: October 10 2008, Nationwide • Rated: R


Leonardo DiCaprio“I saw my character as an operator in the Middle East that was trying to operate and do his job in the higher moral context than his boss wanted him to. There was this great conflict that was set up in the book and adapted by Bill [Monahan] into this script of this dilemma that this character has where he’s asked consistently to do things that he doesn’t believe in for the betterment of his country and this war on terror. Besides this being a great political piece that’s pertinent to this time, it was this fantastic cat-and-mouse espionage thriller that works on its own.”

Russell Crowe“The first thing that I got was a phone call from Ridley [Scott] saying, ‘How would you like to put on a large amount of weight?’ That always appeals to me, so that was kind of a sell right there. But one of the other things that he said is that he wanted the character to feel like an ex-football player with bad knees who still had some grace about him, so that was also interesting. Everything else comes from the book.”

DAVID IGNATIUS (author of book):
“The first time I talked to Russell he asked me, ‘Where’s Hoffman from?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know. Maybe he’s from Massachusetts,’ and Russell said, ‘No, he’s not, he’s from Arkansas.’ He had decided that that was where this character was from and that’s how this character was going to talk. They obviously re-imagined the characters in a hundred different ways, and that’s now who these people are. I’ll never be able to read the book and read about Hoffman and not think of Russell, and the same thing with Ferris and Leo.”

A watching brief“I think Hoffman and Ferris are very much a boss/operator relationship Ed Hoffman might want to project his warmth as if it is a brotherhood, or coach to player, that I’m watching over you buddy, but actually that’s where the seduction begins, so I think this is fundamentally about seduction and betrayal, where if necessary he will betray his most valuable asset in the world if there is a higher reward than losing his asset.”

DiCAPRIO on learning Arabic for the movie:
“I can’t remember a single word now to tell you the truth. But we had an Arabic coach there that was really helpful, because it had to be so exact, and there are different dialects of Arabic from country to country. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do language-wise, because it comes from the throat.”

CROWE on playing so many of his scenes on the phone:
“It’s the same as if you’re doing a CGI film and you’re supposed to be floating in a flock of black ravens. You’ve always got to be shutting off things that are going to affect your focus. It’s the same thing where you just zero in on the phone call. Some guys try to attempt to do that thing of having both people on the phone at the same time, which is just utterly a waste of time; it’s better off that you just do the groove by yourself.”

Director Ridley Scott“I’m really happy about how faithful the movie is to the book, both in the interaction of the characters, in its picture of the CIA struggling around the world against the situation they find themselves in. I thought it was captured well.”

WILLIAM MONAHAN (Screenwriter):
“I don’t think of this as a topical movie. It’s an exciting spy story that well could have happened during the French Revolution, this cat-and-mouse spy game. It would work in almost any context. It’s best to look at it that way.”

“The location is always like the other character. It’s up to me to create a proscenium that’s so real that when the actor walks into that proscenium he’s actually affected by it.”

DiCAPRIO on working with Crowe in The Quick and the Dead:
“Well, I was 18 at the time.”

“You were that old? I’ve been telling everybody you were 12 [Leo laughs].”

“We were both hand plucked to do that big budget movie. He had done Romper Stomper and I had done Gilbert Grape. So we were both very bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.”

“There’s a difference in our ages, but we were both in the same sort of position where the people above us in the cast were Gene Hackman and Sharon Stone, and everyone below us in the cast were all these really famous character actors like Keith David, and they were all looking at us, going, ‘Who are these guys?’ So that naturally put us together in a way where we’d just hang out together because we didn’t care about status. We just wanted to enjoy the experience.”

“Russell is the same guy. He really is. I remember when I first started [hearing] these clichés of what movie stars are – egomaniacal pricks and tyrants, but in general, for the most part, they’re nice people. Russell couldn’t be more professional. He couldn’t be a more normal guy to hang out with. He’s intelligent and great, and he hasn’t changed.”

Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

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