Friday, October 18, 2013

Paul Conroy's "Under the Wire"

Paul Conroy, author of Under the Wire: Marie Colvin's Final Assignment, is a former British soldier. As a photographer and filmmaker whose work spans 15 years, he has reported on the conflicts in Iraq, Congo, Kosovo, Libya, and Syria.

Here Conroy dreamcasts an adaptation of Under the Wire:
On February 22, 2012, I was seriously injured in a rocket attack whilst reporting the Syrian uprising. The same explosion that caused my injuries, killed my good friends and colleagues, Marie Colvin and French photographer, Remi Ochlik. It was nine days before I would receive proper medical treatment to the fist sized hole in my thigh and the multiple shrapnel wounds that peppered my body.

After the most harrowing of escapes, I was confined to bed in London for three months. While surgeons patched me up, I was approached by Annabel Merullo of the PFD literary agency, to write an account of events in Syria.

Initially I never saw it as a book, let alone a film and I was happy just being alive in the immediate weeks after my escape. To begin with the writing was difficult, I was on large doses of morphine for my injuries and finding a balance between pain and the haze of drugs, was a real challenge. Purely by accident I woke at 4am one morning, the pain was tolerable, my head was sharper and more focused as the effects of the morphine wore off. I turned on my laptop, wrote till 9am and then passed out as the pain levels rose and the morphine kicked in again. That's how I wrote the book, a daily ritual from 4am to 9am.

On completion people immediately talked about the possibilities of a film adaption. 'Jolly good,' thought I, still intensely relieved to have delivered the manuscript -- almost on time.

Inevitably, people started asking,"Who play you in a film?" "Who will play Marie?" To be honest, I thought they were all crazy, however, as the concept of a film grew legs and started to take shape, I started to think up the actors who would best capture mine and Marie's relationship.

To be honest, it was easy picking an actor to portray Marie -- Meryl Streep, without doubt. Meryl, a fantastic character actor would, I'm sure, find capturing Marie a rewarding adventure. Marie had a larger than life personality, a gift for any actor who enjoys a challenging roll.

It was far more difficult when It came to thinking of an actor to portray myself. We all have preconceived ideas of how others see us, probably optimistically inflated but, nonetheless, we all posses a sense of self image which we keep safely tucked away. That's fine, until someone asks, "Who would play you?"

Well, after months of deliberation, the jury has returned a verdict -- Colin Farrell. I contemplated the rather flattering ideas of George Clooney or Brad Pitt, both fantastic actors but, paired with Meryl Streep, Colin Farrell, I believe, could inject that magical spark that epitomised mine and Marie's relationship.

Farrell has the most fantastic, 'What the hell is going on' facial expression, a look I have spent half of my life trying to hide while reporting from the frontline. Being Irish helps too, I'm pretty sure he would understand and portray the black, Liverpudlian humour, that runs through the book.

So there you have it, the elegant and sophisticated Meryl Streep as Marie Colvin, and an unwashed, slightly baffled and wisecracking Colin Farrell as me.
© 2013 Paul Conroy
Learn more about Under the Wire, and follow Paul Conroy on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue