Rosamund Pike plays 'fierce' war reporter killed by the Syrian regime

Published: February 03, 2019 14:48:00 | Updated: February 06, 2019 16:04:33

Shot from the movie derived via Youtube

A US court has found the Syrian government liable for war correspondent Marie Colvin's death, just as a film about her arrives in UK cinemas.

On Thursday, Colvin's death in 2012 was deemed an "extrajudicial killing" by US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who ordered President Bashar al-Assad's government to pay $302.5 million (£231 million) in damages.

Colvin died in the besieged Syrian city of Homs alongside French photographer Remi Ochlik when the building they were in was shelled.

It was an "unconscionable crime", according to the judge. And it features in A Private War, in which British actress Rosamund Pike plays the formidable Sunday Times correspondent.

Pike was in London promoting the film when the results of the civil legal case, filed by Colvin's family in 2016, were made public.

The Gone Girl actress said the "astonishing" verdict was "a resounding declaration" that the Assad regime was "guilty on all counts".

She told ITV News: "What Marie was saying was powerful enough that the leaders of a powerful regime felt the need to kill her for it."

Colvin's family is likely to face a lengthy battle to recover any damages from the Syrian government, which was not involved in defending the case.

Colvin's fate inevitably features in A Private War, which also depicts her previous reporting in Iraq, Sri Lanka, Libya and Afghanistan, reports BBC.

In the film, Pike wears the black eye patch that became Colvin's trademark for the last 11 years of her life.

Marie Colvin was admired for her ambition, sharp mind and never turning down a challenge. Photo: Collected

The correspondent began wearing it after losing the sight in her left eye when she was struck by shrapnel from an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) while reporting on the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka in 2001.

Pike, whose other films include A United Kingdom and Die Another Day, says she was drawn to play Colvin because she "doesn't fit any stereotype of a woman on screen".

She tells the BBC: "I thought, if the right film-maker gets this subject, the world is going to be excited to meet this fierce, complicated, extraordinary woman."

The film-maker in question is Matthew Heineman, director of such acclaimed documentaries as Cartel Land (2015) and City of Ghosts (2017).

Pike admits some trepidation about playing the lead, not least because she is 16 years younger than Colvin was at the time of her death.

"I definitely met with anxiety from people who knew her, many of whom did not want a film made," says the actress, who turned 40 last weekend.

"But I stressed from the start that my only interest in doing this was to put an embodiment of Marie on screen her friends and family could recognise.

"I just wanted to disappear really - to shed my own skin and be her. That was my sole aim."

Pike's disappearing act involved altering her posture, gesturing differently and emulating Colvin's penchant for smoking up to 50 cigarettes a day.

"I had to embrace that with a passion," she explains. "I had to go with the attitude that everything would be better with a cigarette."

And then there was the aforementioned eye patch, the donning of which made Pike admire Colvin's fortitude under fire even more.

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