Challenge: Build a massive Afghan refugee camp

Mike Nichols’ latest political satire ranges from the inner sanctum of a U.S. congressman to the makeshift battlefields of Afghanistan, but the critical scene — the turning point in convincing Charlie Wilson to aid the Mujahedeen — occurs at a refugee camp where he sees firsthand the carnage inflicted upon the residents by their Soviet occupiers.

According to set decorator Nancy Haigh, Mother Nature interfered with assembling the key set twice during production: The first camp built in Morocco was scrapped due to snow, and eight weeks into constructing the second camp at Mystery Mesa in California, a freak late-winter storm took it all down. With only two weeks until lensing began, Haigh’s team was able to build it again. “It was truly an amazing feat to pull off,” she says.

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