Of all the stories to emerge from the 9/11 attack and its aftermath, one of the least likely offers the perspective of an alleged terrorist. The legal thriller THE MAURITANIAN tells the true story of Mohamedou Ould Salahi, who was suspected of helping to plan the attack and consequently imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay.
Starring Jodie Foster, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Tahar Rahim, THE MAURITANIAN follows a defense attorney and her associate who uncover a conspiracy of torture as they investigate Salahi’s case.
Foster plays lawyer Nancy Hollander, whose outsized personality is only one part of her multi-faceted character. "Nancy Hollander is a real person, right? She’s full of contradictions. She wears bright red lipstick and red nail polish and she likes race cars, and yet she’s this very sober, legal mind. I was really looking forward to playing her," Foster told us.
Salahi is a big personality himself, which helped build a bond between him and Hollander. “In Mohamedou’s case," Foster add, "she came to understand [that] it wouldn’t have mattered to her whether he was guilty or not. She still would’ve defended him because that’s her mission to uphold the rule of law. But she did understand that he wasn’t guilty and she came to really care about him as a son, and that was nice to see as a trajectory for her character."
THE MAURITANIAN director, Kevin Macdonald hopes the movie conveys a strong message about "the rule of law — the importance of the rule of law."
“This man is a Muslim who is accused of terrorism," Macdonald said, "and for a lot of people that’s enough to say, I don’t want to know anything more about him. Just, you know, hang him. Of course, he’s a human being and in this movie, we get to know him on a human level, and I hope the movie has a strong humanizing effect."
Check out our interview with the star and director of THE MAURITANIAN:
THE MAURITANIAN opens on February 12!
All images courtesy of STX Films.