Colvin was an award-winning journalist for The Sunday Times who died in 2012, at the age of 56, while covering the Assad regime and the violence against the local population in Homs, Syria. She was renowned for her relentless pursuit to cover what was really happening in some of the most dangerous war zones in the world – her signature eye patch was the result of a bomb blast in Sri Lanka in 2001, during which she lost an eye.
Her reports were devastating, and crucial to a worldwide understanding of the reality of some of the biggest conflicts in recent history. A Private War, which came in November 2018, documents Colvin's life (both the professional and the personal) and echoes with a starkly similar purpose. To use Colvin's friend and Sunday Times photographer Paul Conroy's words, she was "an incredible force of a woman".
Conroy, who was on assignment with Colvin during the Homs attack of 2012 and suffered severe leg injuries, is played in the film by Fifty Shades actor Jamie Dornan. On the afternoon we meet, the verdict on Colvin's death is made public and the Syrian government ordered to pay $300 million in damages for the war journalist's murder. To be speaking to Dornan and Conroy on the day that responsibility for Colvin's death is finally legally addressed feels especially poignant, and the significance is not lost on either of them. "This almost brings it to an incredible little point," Conroy tells Refinery29. "Marie was murdered, it's official, the court just issued the verdict an hour ago, slap bang in the middle of the celebration of this film – it's amazing."
Dornan admits that having Conroy so heavily involved in the production of A Private War is the closest he's ever worked with anyone he's had to portray on camera. "I've played four real people before," he explains. "None of them still alive and certainly none of them on set!" But they both, now clearly good friends, regard the experience as incredibly special.
"For me it was an honor to be in this film and to portray this unbelievable man," Dornan says, gesturing to Conroy. Conroy later adds that he was "naturally cautious at the beginning because it was my friend and her legacy... but I'm touched and proud and I never thought it was going to be like this." Between shooting together on location in Jordan, the thoughtful attention given to mental health and why A Private War is such an important film to be released right now, watch the video below to hear Dornan and Conroy's experience of telling Marie Colvin's incredible story.