It’s all the rage — actors playing themselves on TV. But this actor plays himself in a prison re-enactment
- Last Updated: 2:10 PM, April 25, 2012
- Posted: 11:00 PM, April 24, 2012
“Locked Up Abroad:
Tonight at 10 on Nat Geo
If you’re still having nightmares from the one and only time you saw “Midnight Express,” then maybe you don’t have the guts for something even more horrifying — and much more current.
I’m talking about the season premiere of Nat Geo’s “Locked Up Abroad,” called “From Hollywood to Hell.”
Unlike every other segment of this show that has gone before, tonight’s episode stars the actor who actually got locked up abroad.
In 2001, Erik Aude, was an up-and-coming actor, who had been in movies like “Dude, Where’s My Car?”
To keep it all together between gigs, the incredibly handsome Aude worked as a personal trainer — like every other struggling actor who isn’t a waiter.
One day, Aude’s long-time client and friend, an Armenian importer of leather goods named Rai, asked Aude if he wanted to make some extra money bringing leather jackets back from Turkey.
Aude agreed. Who wouldn’t want an all-expenses-paid trip with an $800 payday? When Aude asked Rai why he didn’t just ship the stuff, he said he was trying to get away with not paying the duty tax.
Right off, Aude, should have told him to shove his jackets where the sun don’t shine. But he didn’t. Nor did he ever suspect there was a problem.
Aude was stopped and searched coming back from Istanbul, but there was nothing in his luggage for him to be worried about.
Aude gave the next leather jacket junket to his brother, who freaked when he found out it wasn’t Turkey he was being sent to, but Pakistan! In 2001. Right. No way, no how, bro.
Not wanting to leave his good friend Rai stranded, dopey Aude agreed to take the gig himself.
After being abandoned in a terrible, cheap hotel in Pakistan and nearly dying of food poisoning, Rai’s suppliers arrived with the jackets for Aude to bring back to the States.
When Aude was searched at the airport, the Pakistani police came up with packets of opium.
What happened next to Aude is absolutely harrowing — and he himself re-enacts every aspect of it, including being set upon by a mob of angry anti-American prisoners.
Aude was tortured for days (the American embassy negotiated the torture down to three days from 10!), then thrown into the worst prison on earth.
Beatings, torture, near starvation, a stint on death row and solitary confinement followed. How Aude survived on the sheer muscle power he’d developed from years of training is a beautiful and terrifying thing to behold.
“If I’m gonna be executed,” he says, “I’ll do it with a swagger and shoot the hangman a nickel as I go down.” Whew.
Even when he was offered a leniency deal if he’d admit guilt, Aude refused, preferring time in hell rather than admitting guilt to a crime for which he swears he had no knowledge.
How much is exaggeration, I don’t know and neither will you — but “From Hollywood to Hell” is a helluva tale.
It should be made into a movie. And I know the perfect actor to play Aude.