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Ridley Scott on Body of Lies

Published October 7, 2008 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Warner Bros. Pictures
Body of Lies PosterBody of Lies
For most of Body of Lies, the two main characters only speak by phone. There are a few scenes with Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio together, but most of their conversations are shot separately. Director Ridley Scott trusted his actors to perform their own sides of the conversations, without scheduling them to give each other line readings.

Ridley Scott Directs Body of Lies

"If you're the director you got to go out and if somebody's done it first, and I run it, then the other actor will say, 'Christ, he's taking forever to say his dialogue,'" Scott explained. "So it's always better on your own. It's a comment on cell phones when he's about to engage in the field. [Ferris] gets a call from his lawyer saying she wants the house. You've got to go, 'Who wants the house?' Then you realize he's engaged in a private condition, which is getting divorced back in Washington. That's what can happen today. The access to everything and instant information to everything has changed the world."

The espionage thriller deals with field agent Ferris (DiCaprio) in the middle east while agent Hoffman (Crowe) orchestrates stateside. While getting immersed in the Arabic world, Ferris falls in love.

"The book started off with Aisha being a national. In fact she was a French girl in the embassy. I asked [author] David [Ignatious] how he felt if she was local, which I felt wasn't initially there as the idea of what it bled into. It started to underscore Ferris's attachment and liking for the region that he was in. You start to get a sense of attachment to this particular place that he's somehow found his own magic in."

The traditions of the Koran make their relationship different than most cinema romances. "What's really nice about it is that she's taken what some would think are ridiculous aspects of the Koran, but in some ways I think is rather charming aspect of the Koran that she can't touch, cannot shake his hands. So you've got to have a chaperone, you can't shake hands until they're fully engaged in an acknowledged relationship, which probably means family, et cetera, et cetera. If you go there in the scale and spectrum from where we are today in our society, anything goes, right? So I think that's a balance, there's a plus for reappraising some of the better aspects of being a little more reserved about relationships and how fast they travel."

Body of Lies is also action packed. True to form, Scott likes to shoot on location, as he shot many films before. "The location is always like the other character. It's up to me create a proscenium that's so real that when the actor walks into that proscenium he's actually affected by it. He's never seen it until he walks in. It becomes part of the world. The locations are the world."

Body of Lies opens to theaters on October 10th.

For the trailers, stills, posters and more movie info, go to the Body of Lies Movie Page.

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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Warner Bros. Pictures

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