It’s hard to imagine a more feared or notorious man than the late dictator Saddam Hussein, but his son’s reputation may just be the only one that surpasses his.
According to a new tell-all book that has been adapted into a film, Uday Hussein was as a violent, sexually predatory, drug-addled party boy who reportedly found pleasure in the alleged frequent abduction, rape and murder of young women, before being killed by U.S. forces in 2003.
The forthcoming drama “The Devil’s Double,” based on Latif Yahia’s memoir of the same name, recreates 1987 Baghdad and tells the tales of Uday – the eldest son of the Hussein regime – and his alleged lifestyle of money, fast cars, decadence and pure villiany.
But what you may not know is that Uday held a “body double” captive, according to allegations made in the book.
Due to his strong resemblance to the dictator’s son, Yahia says he was ripped from his family and forced to become the fitday (which loosely translates to “bullet catcher”) to Uday. As a result, he claims he was held against his will for years and exposed to the behind-the-scenes corruption and abhorrent abuse.
The tell-all book is the basis for the big screen movie – although it seems at least a few in Hollywood were afraid to attach their names to the project.
“The story itself is incredible, I think a lot of actors and directors were tentatively scared of it when the script was first developed a few years ago, I know a lot of people decided not to take it on but I didn’t fear that… I tried not to think about that too much, even now,” Dominic Cooper, who plays both Uday and Yahia in the movie, told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “It was real, this really happened to a man (Yahia) and he was emotionally and physically scarred from that.”
And although Cooper himself had heard many stories over the years regarding the erratic and benevolent behavior of the first-born Hussein, he was left speechless when stepping into such shoes – and predicts audiences will be similarly shocked.
“I just couldn’t believe the lack of humanity in the man. We know about dictators and we know what they are capable of but this man had no moral code and no grounding of what was right and what was wrong. I was just more and more repulsed by him and what he was put there to do to other human beings,” the British-born actor said. “That was difficult for me because I needed something I could hold on to, there is always an aspect of yourself that you want to bring in to the character and you have to like them in some way. I found nothing in him.”
Eventually however, Cooper drew on the idea that Uday would likely have been exposed to horrific things as a child, and spent his life constantly trying to attract the attention of his father.
“He was terribly, deeply lonely and tried desperately to create a better version of himself,” the British-born actor said. “There is something hopelessly sad about him.”
Hollie McKay has been a FoxNews.com staff reporter since 2007. She has reported extensively from the Middle East on the rise and fall of terrorist groups such as ISIS in Iraq. Follow her on twitter at @holliesmckay