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Cheadle visits the real ‘Hotel Rwanda’

Oscar-nominated actor finally sees setting for his acclaimed film
/ Source: The Associated Press

Don Cheadle has finally visited “Hotel Rwanda.”

The 40-year-old actor toured the Hotel des Milles Collines in Rwanda’s capital Kigali last month, speaking with several of the more than 1,000 people who were sheltered there during the country’s 1994 genocide.

“All of their experiences were the stuff of epic films — things they had to go through in those 100 days,” Cheadle told The Associated Press in an interview this past week. “It was amazing.”

Cheadle earned an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina, but the movie was filmed primarily in South Africa.

During his 2½-week visit in late July, Cheadle met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, attended the premiere of “Hotel Rwanda” in Uganda and toured displaced-person camps in the country’s northern provinces.

More than 1.5 million Ugandans have fled their homes to avoid a campaign of murder, rape and abduction waged by rebel group Lord’s Resistance Army. Cheadle met with young girls who said they were taken as wives by rebel soldiers.

“That was amazing, to hear these stories of these kids and what they had been forced to do, and trying to imagine ... I don’t have that frame of reference,” he said.

Cheadle said he’s writing a book with John Prendergast of the nonprofit International Crisis Group about how ordinary Americans can respond to Africa’s problems.