Rachel Weisz celebrates heroic woman in fact-based ‘The Whistleblower’
BY DENNIS KING
NEW YORK – Sitting side by side, actress Rachel Weisz and former United Nations peacekeeper Kathy Bolkovac couldn’t appear more physically different, and yet the two women shared a single-minded persona in the making of “The Whistleblower,” a searing fact-based story about human sex trafficking in war-ravaged Bosnia.
Weisz, Oscar winner for “The Constant Gardener,” is a petite, brunette Londoner who speaks in a lilting English accent.
Bolkovac, a single mother, veteran Nebraska police officer and former U.N peacekeeper, is a sturdy blond who speaks in the broad tones of her native Midwest.
But in “The Whistleblower,” Weisz steps into Bolkovac’s shoes with gritty determination to portray her in the story of one honest peacekeeper who arrives in Bosnia and uncovers a network of brutal brothels that import teenage girls from Eastern Europe as sex slaves. When Bolkovac tries to blow the whistle, she further discovers a dire tangle of complicity among fellow peacekeepers and a series of bureaucratic roadblocks, denials and cover-ups among certain powerful diplomatic officials.
During a press conference at the Regency Hotel hosted by Samuel Goldwyn Films, Weisz said after she first read the story she couldn’t get it out of her head.
“When I was first offered the role I was pregnant, very pregnant,” the actress said. “And I thought that this was one of the most incredible stories and scripts that I’d ever read. But it was too challenging and traumatic to engage with at that moment because of my physical state. I just couldn’t get my head around it, but I couldn’t forget it.
“I suppose I was haunted by this story, and it just kept coming back into my mind,” she said. “And after I think it was two years I called the producer and said, ‘Hey, that script, “The Whistleblower” …,’ and I don’t know the details but it was embroiled somewhere. Anyway, nine months later we were shooting.”
The film was shot on location in and around Bucharest, Romania, and Weisz said from the beginning she felt a very close bond with the real-life woman she was portraying.
“Kathy and I met a week into filming,” Weisz said. “And I realized immediately that she was not just a generic tough cop. She was a very specific human being.”
“I couldn’t wait to meet her,” Bolkovac said. “I’d seen her in ‘The Constant Gardener,’ of course, and just found her to be so intelligent, along with her beauty. And I thought, wow, somebody like her is going to play me.”
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