The movie “Zero Dark Thirty” takes viewers along on the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.
And in the movie, British actor Ricky Sekhon has the job of playing the al-Qaeda leader, mostly after he is killed.
Sekhon’s appearance in the film was brief, but his preparations were not.
Anchor Marco Werman speaks with Ricky Sekhon about being Bin Laden.
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Marco Werman: Zero Dark Thirty is nominated for five Academy Awards, including best picture, best actress and best original screenplay. Ricky Sekhon is one of the actors in the movie. Here is the scene where he first appears.
Movie scene: Osama!
Werman: The Navy Seals are in his compound here.
Movie scene: Osama! Down.
Werman: And that’s when they shoot and kill the fugitive al-Qaeda leader. Sekhon’s on screen time goes by pretty quickly because he’s the one playing Osama bin Laden, mostly when he’s dead. Ricky Sekhon describes the process of becoming bin Laden.
Ricky Sekhon: I come from a background in physical theater and for me to learn as much about the character, I guess about the history of the character, you know, from education through to you know, what he did in his life, I guess you know, the wars he encountered, you have to try and pick from that against as much evidence of physical nature, characteristics that you can actually perform. You need to try and take as much from the history of this man to try and piece together an actual person.
Werman: And for that history what was the best book you read or best bit of research you found to kind of get you into that head.
Sekhon: I’d say yeah, it would have to be Peter Bergen with The Osama I Know, which is a really, really fantastic collection I guess of firsthand accounts on Osama.
Werman: Hm, now Peter Bergen can’t know what it’s like to be a dead terrorist in a body bag. Here’s a clip from that scene though. You are playing dead in the body bag and this is the moment when you’re back at the Seal team base and the CIA agent played by Jessica Chastain opens the bag for confirmation it’s bin Laden.
Movie scene: Sir, the agency expert gave visual confirmation. Yes, sir, a go, 100%. Yes, sir.
Werman: And Jessica Chastain zips the body bag back up. Ricky Sekhon, this is not the first film you played a terrorist, I gather. Is this becoming a habit for you? Are you going to be typecast now?
Sekhon: Hopefully, in my life there will be more range, more variety for me in terms of my future roles. I’m going up for a lot of really interesting parts now.
Werman: It’s been helpful, this role?
Sekhon: Yeah, yeah, completely, but I’m going up for a lot of interesting, mm, definitely not as extreme characters–I don’t think you can get much more extreme than this, but definitely not as extreme characters. And I like that. I like soft, interesting characters.
Werman: Now aside from the research you did in preparing for this role, you also had to lose a lot of weight.
Sekhon: Yeah, I think, I think physically he’s a very different character to me. I’m quite broad. I’m 6’4″, but I carry quite a lot a bit of weight, but a lot of it in muscle and a lot of it in chubbiness.
Werman: How much did you have to lose?
Sekhon: Yeah, I lost about 15-16 kilos, which is like
Werman: About 30 pounds, yeah.
Sekhon: Something like that, in like eight weeks, which is not healthy. I wouldn’t advise it. And plus I had to lose a lot of it in muscle, so I couldn’t work out.
Werman: What about portraying somebody who’s a good 20 years older than you?
Sekhon: Yeah, I spent a lot of time hanging around, kind of loitering outside Regents Park mosque in London. I just wanted to see you know, physically how older gentlemen would interact with each other, to get relationships with each other, with children and just try and really use that…and try and take from that as much as I can.
Werman: Final question, where are you gonna be watching the Oscars?
Sekhon: From my sofa in London.
Werman: Actor Ricky Sekhon. He played Osama bin Laden in the film Zero Dark Thirty. Thank you very much for speaking with us.
Sekhon: No worries, Marco, nice talking.
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