British Actor Describes Playing al-Qaeda Leader in Zero Dark Thirty

Osama bin Loungin: British Actor Describes Playing al-Qaeda Leader in Zero Dark Thirty

Want to know what it takes to play a dead man in a movie?

Ricky Sekhon, 29, described how much of his portrayal of the al-Qaeda leader involved being carried around in a bag by actors pretending to be US Navy Seals, saying that it was much like being in a hammock.

Mr Sekhon, a Sikh former member of the National Youth Theatre, said he secured the role of the “global face of evil” after a mysterious call from a casting director, who asked to see him but would not tell him what it was about.

The British Actor Who Played bin Laden in Zero Dark Thirty

Writing in the New York Times, he said: “The next week, I was offered the part of the world’s most notorious terrorist. My first reaction was an expletive that cannot be printed here.

“I guess I do look a bit like Bin Laden – I am 6 feet 4 inches tall, about what he was. I have brown skin and a prominent nose, but it’s not as though anyone has ever stopped me in the street and shouted ‘Hey, aren’t you bin Laden?’ And I think I have a better smile, not as creepy.”

Showing admirable dedication to his craft, Mr Sekhon, who has a drama degree from Royal Holloway, University of London, trained by running up hills and dieting to reduce his 200lb frame to “bin Laden skinny.”

He had been chosen for the role after playing a henchman of Abu Hamza al-Masri, the hook-handed radical Islamist preacher, in a previous film.

“It’s not that easy to be an actor of Asian ancestry in Britain or America. There are fewer leading roles for us,” Mr Sekhon said. “But then again, there are also probably fewer of us going up for those roles.

“I guess playing Bin Laden was a natural progression, a graduation through the ranks of terrorists.”

The actor admitted to being nervous when he turned up in Jordan on the set of the film, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, which details the manhunt ending with the al-Qaeda leader being shot dead in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

In the finished movie, which has been nominated for five Oscars, only a shadow of Mr Sekhon is seen before his character is killed and spends the rest of it as a corpse. His nostrils poking out of the body bag ended up being “the main feature of my performance,” he said.

Mr. Sekhon added: “Playing a dead person was more difficult than I’d imagined. Holding my breath for more than 30 seconds felt like eternity.”

“And being dumped into a body bag was certainly not as fun as having, say, an on-screen snog, but being carried in it was kind of reminiscent of being in a hammock. I got so comfortable in the bag that, by the end of the shoot, I was known as Osama bin Loungin’.”

He added: “Would I be prepared to play a universally despised emblem of evil again? I guess it would depend on how many lines I had.”

Read more at The Telegraph.

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