We know that Saddam Hussein has often used identical stand-ins, but he has an American twin as well: Jerry Haleva, who has a lobbying firm called Sergeant Major Communications, and also doubles for Saddam. Haleva has played Saddam in “Hot Shots” and “Hot Shots Deux,” the Coen Brothers’ “The Big Lebowski,” and the 2002 HBO mockumentary “Live from Baghdad.” His film career started in 1989 when he worked for the legislature’s Republican minority leader. “The sergeant at arms saw this picture of Saddam addressing his troops,” he says. “But he copied the picture and passed it around the Capitol with the caption, ‘Now we know what Haleva does on his weekends.'”
While waiting in costume at a convention, he met former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres. He says, “I shook his hand, and someone said, ‘I have got to get this picture!'” He used the photo in his firm’s marketing brochures with the caption, “If we can make this happen, how hard can your issue be?” His resemblance to Saddam has been good for business. “It opens doors…and I have a lot of fun with it.”
But isn’t he nervous about the upcoming war with Iraq? He says, “During the first Gulf War, I took a friend’s advice and shaved off my mustache. But life’s too short?you can’t live in fear. I don’t think anybody thinks I share any of Saddam’s views.” Is he worried that Saddam’s death might mean the end of his career? He says, “As an actor, I hope he goes into exile, and my career extends. But as an American, I hope I get to do his epitaph.”
Haleva must often have the sense of being stared at.
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