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About The Production (Continued)
The character of Maddy Bowen brings an altogether different perspective into focus. An American correspondent, Maddy is an outsider; she is in Africa only to expose the real story behind conflict diamonds. On her own, she's been able to uncover compelling evidence of smuggling and subterfuge—including the fact that for five years Sierra Leone had reported almost no diamond exports, while its neighboring country of Liberia had exported a great number…without any significant diamond mining to speak of. Nevertheless, Maddy is still in need of the hard facts that will lock her story down. She seeks out Danny Archer as an inside source for her article, never imagining that her contact with him will change her from an observer to a participant, or that he will lead her to the human face of her story: Solomon Vandy.

Jennifer Connelly offers, "Maddy wants to trace and expose the course of blood diamonds from the source to the marketplace. Given Archer's involvement, she feels confident he has the information she needs. She realizes he's probably done some horrendous things in his time but also opines that no one is entirely good or bad, and sometimes in a world this desperate, the lines are blurred.”

"What I love about the character of Maddy is that she is cynical and idealistic at the same time,” Herskovitz remarks. "She is motivated by a real desire to make a difference in the world, but she is also an adrenaline junkie who always has to be where the action is, and that's part of her motivation for being in Sierra Leone on the trail of an important story.”

Connelly came to her role in "Blood Diamond” having demonstrated her own commitment to making a difference. In 2005, the actress was named Amnesty International USA's (AIUSA) Ambassador for Human Rights Education and served as an AIUSA spokesperson for the United Nations' screening of "Innocent Voices,” a film about child soldiers in El Salvador.

Zwick adds that Connelly was the perfect choice for the role of a fearless and ambitious reporter, saying, "Jenny is someone who exudes extraordinary intelligence and empathy, and that is not as easy to convey as you might think. She also did her homework. She met with women journalists, watching them and assessing some of their habits and attitudes. It really informed her performance.” Connelly was especially intrigued by a journalist's constant struggle to avoid crossing the fine line between reporting the story and becoming the story.

"A lot of the reporters I spoke to told me how hard it is to control the urge to intervene, to do something to effect a more immediate change. It is difficult to be in that kind of environment, surrounded by tragedy, and feel like you are in some way benefiting from another person's grief,” the actress notes, adding, "I think that is the conflict Maddy faces, especially with regard to helping Solomon. She knows he might not ever find his family without her, but would she have gotten involved if it didn't help her article?”

Through Maddy's connections, Solomon finds his family in a refugee camp. It is there that he learns his 12-year-old son, Dia—a promising student with dreams of becoming a doctor—has been taken by the rebels and forced to become a child soldier. Dia is played by Kagiso Kuypers, a young actor discovered at the National School of Art in Johannesburg, South Africa. Zwick chose him over hundreds of other young hopefuls from townships all over the region. "Many of these kids were just remarkable, but Kagiso stood out,” Zwick says. "I really pushed him in his audition, and it impressed me that he understood what is done to Dia and how he changes as a child and as a son.” Zwick adds, "I have a teenage son, and the idea of one's child being taken and brainwashed by a group of vicious, cold-blooded killers is a horror beyond imagining.”

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