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THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND

About The Production
Just as important as the role of Idi Amin to THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND is the wholly opposite part of the fun-loving young doctor who has no idea what he's getting into when he agrees to become Amin's personal physician. To play Nicholas Garrigan, the filmmakers chose rising young Scottish star James McAvoy, who is well known to UK television viewers for his role in the television adaptation of Zadie Smith's popular novel "White Teeth” and his award-winning role as a car thief in the Channel Four comedy "Shameless.” U.S. audiences may be familiar with McAvoy's feature work in such films as WIMBLEDON and THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, in which he played the key character of Mr. Tumnus the Faun.

The original character of Garrigan as written by novelist Giles Foden was based on a composite of a number of Westerners who became close to Idi Amin, including, a former British soldier who was widely viewed as one of Amin's most trusted advisors. Garrigan's character was also inspired by the fact that Amin himself had a Scottish physician.

McAvoy was immediately attracted to the character. "I thought the script was fantastic and I loved the soul of it,” he says. "I was drawn to Nicholas because he goes through such a huge array of emotions and situations and has a a big character arc. Nicholas is sort of the personification of all the people who fell in love with this monster who was Idi Amin and woke up to see they had created a nightmare.”

Yet McAvoy didn't want Nicholas to seem too much the observer – but rather to imbue him with a youthful energy and humor that would keep the audience with him as he descends into an increasingly dark journey. "The challenge was to make Nicholas feel like a real human being – and not just the lens that you see the story through,” says McAvoy. "I wanted to make him interesting right from the start because he ends up doing some very difficult and despicable things, and that was a lot of work. Even though he's not a real person, there had to be a truth and reality to him.”

As he probed the character, McAvoy began to understand why Nicholas finds such joy in Amin's companionship. "Garrigan is out to see the world, to have a real adventure, and when he first starts working in Uganda in a hospital, he realizes it might not be as glamorous and exciting as he thought and I think he's scared that his life will becoming boring,” he observes. "But when he meets Idi Amin – it's a huge shot in the arm of glamour and passion. Here's this huge, statuesque iconic figure telling him he's special, he's brave, he's got great ideas and he's making a difference in the country. For Nicholas it's hugely attractive and hard to resist. That kind of power is intoxicating.”

Ultimately McAvoy sees Nicholas turning into a kind of "Ugly Scot” – who naively impacts Uganda much more than he ever intended. "Nicholas makes such huge, huge mistakes and I think it shows how just one man can be so unintentionally destructive,” he says. "Through his own selfishness, vanity and ego, Nicholas screws things up royally. What's so fascinating about this movie is that it shows that bad men don't always do all evil things and good men don't always do good things – and the ruin of a country is a complex thing that involves both good and bad intentions.”

The filmmakers were especially impressed with McAvoy's devotion to the role. "James was in nearly every scene in the film,” notes Charles Steel. "He gave a wonderful performance, showing how easy it would be to be seduced by this situation and then to suddenly take your rose glasses off and realize you're in the middle of a very dark and dangerous situation.”

Some of McAvoy's most harrowing scenes involved intense physical torture – even worse, at the hands of his former friend -- which tested his limits as an actor. "The<

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