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General Production Information
Lord of War began principle photography on August 2, 2004 in New York City, shooting in various locations around Manhattan and the Brighton Beach section of Coney Island. After nine days of filming, the production headed to Cape Town, South Africa for ten weeks. The movie was completed on November 2, 2004 with three days of shooting in the Czech Republic, where the production moved to take advantage of the Eastern European landscape and a former Soviet military base which doubled for Ukraine.

The cast and crew on Lord of War all held immeasurable respect for the sheer volume and meticulousness of the background research conducted by director Andrew Niccol before even commencing to write the script. It was indisputable that the primary authority on events and character backstory featured in Lord of War was Niccol. 

"All the research, it's really Andrew who's done that,” explains Rousselet. "Andrew works in a very independent way, in that he's the one who does all the research, he's the one who does all the work basically.” He laughs. "Andrew is so precise, and such a perfectionist he doesn't leave anything to luck or chance or anything like that. Anything you have without an answer, you ask Andrew, he will have the answer for you.” 

"One of the things I like about Andrew is that he picks up on things that you kind of breeze over,” agrees Hawke.

He continues: "The great thing about working with Andrew is that he does so much research. He inundates you with all the research. You just need to go to him as far as learning about the subject matter encompassed by the film is concerned.” 

"Andrew's script was so full and gave me an indication where I should be heading. He did a great job,” says Jared Leto.

Producer Norm Golightly comments in agreement. "He (Niccol) didn't leave much research undone at the end of the day!”

It was Niccol's knowledge of the subject he was exploring, alongside his dedication to creating a realistic depiction of Orlov's world, that led to the production shooting in one of the more dangerous areas of Cape Town, South Africa. Despite various misgivings as to safety, Niccol was determined that this would provide the perfect re-creation of the Monrovian street scene. The result, as Rousselet is quick to point out, was "fantastic and very similar to the reality of Monrovia, Liberia”. 

In fact, the diversity of the South African landscape allowed the production's budget to re-create a variety of the countries in Africa, Asia, and South America, even locations as varied as Ukraine and the Caribbean, that Orlov journeys through without having to travel to each individual country. The cast and crew were equally overwhelmed by the beauty and intensity of the landscape. "It's a beautiful country, the way the light falls here in Africa, you can see animals, the amount of things you can do,” comments Cage. "It's a high adrenalin experience being in Africa.” 

"That's one of the unique things about South Africa,” remarks Leto. "It can double for so much of the world. The topography; it's such a bizarre place in a beautiful way. It's been a pleasure to shoot here.” 

However mesmerizing the African landscape was for the cast and crew, actor Nicolas Cage was slightly less enamored with some of the wildlife that co-starred with him in one scene. "There was a South African capon vulture on set and I had no doubt that this thing was a very ferocious sort of velociraptor from Jurassic Park. This thing was a dinosaur. It was yelling, squawking, hopping and it had these talons that if it landed on any part of you, you'd be in pieces. And they were feeding it baby vultures which made the whole scene more horrifying!”

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