BLACK HAWK DOWN
Following their training, the large contingent of international performers descended upon Rabat, Morocco, along with a tremendous group of behind-the-scenes artists, craftsmen and technicians from around the world organized by Jerry Bruckheimer, Ridley Scott and Branko
The crew of Black Hawk Down represented a truly awesome international coalition. The largest contingent was actually from home turf in Morocco, with expert workers hailing from every corner of the country, from Tangiers in the north to Ouarzazate in the south, as well as Marrakesh, Casablanca, Fez, cities and tiny country villages, and many from the local Rabat/Sale area. The second largest group was from Great Britain, including most of the special effects, props, wardrobe, set decorating and armoury departments. The better part of Arthur Max's art department hailed from Italy, artisans who had previously worked with him on the massive sets of Gladiator. Approximately 50 Americans, sprinkled through the production and other departments, traveled from New York, Los Angeles and points in between. Branko Lustig, originally a native of Croatia, brought in some.50 of his former countrymen (and women) to work in various departments (again, many of whom were veterans of Gladiator), and the better part of the stunt players under coordinator Phil Neilson were from the Czech Republic, many of whom had also seen action in the bloodied ancient arenas of Gladiator.
Other countries represented on the Black Hawk Down crew were Canada, France, the West Indies, Germany, Ireland, Malta, Poland, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Russia, Slovakia, Austria, New Zealand, Senegal and even Thailand. All told, there were nearly a thousand crew members on the most demanding days, in addition to the huge cast and extras.
Further internationalizing the production was the dedicated group of extras assembled by William F. Dowd to portray the Somalis. "Since there are few, if any, Somalis living in Morocco," Dowd explains, "we had to organize people from some 30 other countries in Africa who are working or studying in and around Rabat. When I first came to North Africa, I got word that there was a group of people from Nigeria who went to mass at the Rabat Protestant Fellowship Church. So I went there, met the pastor, and spoke to the people about the movie and asked them to get the word out to the African community in Rabat that we were hiring people to play Somalis.
"The word got out all right," continues Dowd. "We not only attracted people from Nigeria, but also from Burkina Faso, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Angola, Djibouti, Senegal and Congo, just to name a few."
Dowd also enlisted Moroccans and many Berbers from the southern deserts of sub-Saharan African descent. The Africans would create their own rich babel of languages, including Creole, Wolof, Dutch, Italian, French, English and several tribal dialects. And with the aid of stunt coordinator Phil Neilson, 50 Africans were chosen as the core Somali militiamen, which would require intense physical and weapons training that converted them into what everyone considered to be extraordinary stunt players.
Three British actors—Razaaq Adoti, Treva Etienne and George Harris—were cast by Ridley Scott as major Somali characters. Adoti plays the fierce militiaman Mo'alim, Etienne is Black Hawk pilot Mike Durant's captor Firimbi, and polished, educated businessman Osman Atto is played by Harris. All were determined to bring a sense of humanity and balance to an "enemy" which had a firm belief in the righteousness of their cause.
Notes Adoti, "As an actor, if you're going to play someone who's responsible for despicable acts—even if it's alien and incomprehensible to yourself—you still have to find the truth and the reasons behind them so that you can play the character believably. On a moral scale, Mo'alim is doing a lot of wrong. He's k
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