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'Die Another Day' director Lee Tamahori makes his comeback

10-Dec-2010 • Die Another Day

Lee Tamahori's first movie since his arrest in a Hollywood prostitution sting is set to revive his career, his French star says. The Devil's Double, a tale about the body double for Saddam Hussein's eldest son, will feature at next year's Sundance film festival, reports Stuff.

Tamahori shot the movie, which also stars Britain's Dominic Cooper, in Malta this year.

Ludivine Sagnier, best known for her 2003 role in hit French film Swimming Pool, plays a prostitute who is involved with both Uday Hussein and his double.

Shooting the movie had been a powerful experience for Tamahori, she said. "It's a very personal project, and he had complete freedom of editing. I think it was very blossoming and rejuvenating for him, and it's going to be a big milestone in his career."

Tamahori, who grew up in Tawa, shot to international prominence in 1994 with Once Were Warriors, before going on to direct blockbusters such as the James Bond film Die Another Day.

But he ran into trouble in 2006 when he was arrested on Santa Monica Boulevard for allegedly approaching an undercover police officer and offering to perform a sex act for money. He was wearing makeup, an off-the-shoulder dress and a black wig at the time.

Prostitution charges were later dismissed in exchange for Tamahori pleading no contest to criminal trespassing.

The Devil's Double is based on the experiences of Latif Yahia, the body double of Uday Hussein in pre-war Iraq.

Sagnier said she was initially unconvinced she could pull off the role, but Tamahori talked her around.

"I said, 'No, it's not possible, I'm blonde as a Swedish girl, I can't be Iraqi'. [My agent] said, 'Yeah, but he insists'." Tamahori was so full of knowledge about world cinema that he was "like an encyclopedia", she said.

Sundance spokesman Trevor Groth told USA Today the story behind the film was both crazy and true. "Uday was this sadistic wild man who was pretty notorious, and his double gets thrown into all these strange situations but lives to tell the tale."

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