Barry Keoghan: From Saltburn to new Saddam Hussein film

Virgin Radio

16 Feb 2024, 10:01

Credit: Getty/Amazon

Barry Keoghan steps into the intriguing role of Saddam Hussein's American guard in new film.

Barry Keoghan, known for his knack of portraying intriguing characters, is set to take on a challenging yet captivating role in the upcoming film Amo Saddam or, when translated into English, Uncle Saddam.

Despite his reputation for occasionally playing the part of antagonist, with Saltburn as his surprise cameo as The Joker at the end of The Batman, this time, he most certainly won't be playing the role of the notorious dictator.

Instead, Keoghan will delve into the intricate character of one of the 12 American soldiers assigned to guard Saddam Hussein during the six months leading up to his execution.

The film is an adaptation of Will Bardenwerper's book, The Prisoner In His Palace: Saddam Hussein, His American Guards, And What History Leaves Unsaid.

Keoghan's character is said to grow close to Saddam, having to share the confined space of a bombed-out palace turned high-security prison. Navigating the blurred lines between fact and fiction, Amo Saddam aims to delve into the complexities of reckoning with the 'American imperial machine that defined the 21st century.'

Directed by Johan Renck, renowned for his work on Chernobyl, the film reunites him with Keoghan, who previously appeared in the HBO miniseries.

Renck expressed his desire to capture the immersive and authentic experience of being in Baghdad in 2006 without resorting to typical war movie tropes.

The action unfolds within Camp Victory, a compound serving as a base for occupying forces in Iraq.

Renck described vision for the film to The Hollywood Reporter, saying: “So you have this American enclave with walls around it while right outside is Baghdad, this Goya-esque painting of sectarian violence where all the chaos unleashed by these actions of the Western world are taking place.

"That contrast is something we tap into in the script,”

He continued: “In a weird way, it’s a prison movie, it’s a war movie and it’s kind of a horror movie almost. There’s a little bit of genre-bending going on.”

Elsewhere in the publication, Renck doubled down on his choice of Keoghan for the lead role, praising the actor's adeptness and range.

Michael Parets, the film's producer alongside Renck, echoed the similar sentiments, stating: “Barry has proven himself time and time again to be an actor who is so adept at playing really complex characters and we couldn’t be happier having him as our lead for what is going to be a challenging, ambitious and hopefully really special film,”

While the film explores the grim realities of Saddam Hussein's last months, Renck aims to cast a 'really good actor from the region, who speaks Arabic and can authentically embody the role' for the character of Hussein.

Steering away from the conventional war movie narrative, Amo Saddam promises to be a cinematic experience that transcends genres, offering audiences a fresh perspective on historical events.

As Keoghan steps into this intricate role, Amo Saddam emerges as a testament to his versatility as an actor, showcasing his ability to tackle diverse and challenging characters with finesse.

As audiences eagerly anticipate this unique cinematic journey, Keoghan's performance is poised to leave a lasting impression in the complex tapestry of Amo Saddam.