Osama bin Laden first appeared on the FBI Most Wanted list in 1999. Following the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, every American knew his name, and he represented America's ultimate villain, and the America's number one target.
Today, the threat seems more amorphous. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explained in her testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday, "The Arab revolutions have scrambled power dynamics and shattered security forces across the region. And instability in Mali has created an expanding safe haven for terrorists who look to extend their influence and plot further attacks of the kind we saw just last week in Algeria."
The terrorist threats of 2013 are different from what the United States has faced in years past, but today, most moviegoers have America's old-time villain on the brain.
Nominated for five Oscars, "Zero Dark Thirty" follows one CIA agent's hunt for Osama bin Laden, and 29-year-old British actor Ricky Sekhon portrays the ultimate evildoer on screen.
Sekhon explains the difficulty in researching the role. "Apart from [the] little YouTube footage, you don't really have much." Journalistic accounts of bin Laden's background helped, Sekhon says, but he had to build a real-life character from widely varying accounts of the man.
Preparing to play bin Laden was "dark," Sekhon says, "and it's complex, and it's plagued…through yourself, you have to ask a lot of questions, and you have to try and answer them how you think your character would. And it was a challenge."
Sekhon's family is of Indian descent, and he wonders whether playing bin Laden will open new opportunities. "It's quite easy to be cast in negative roles [particularly] myself, the way I look, but I hope that my career is not going to be that limited."
As for the controversy over the torture scenes in "Zero Dark Thirty," Sekhon is confident in the film's accuracy. "I think it was complete fact…it was nothing but fact, which is great…I hope that all the debate that it's raising is going to do good."