Alynda Wheat
October 31, 2003 AT 05:00 AM EST

”Beyond Borders” Aid workers Angelina Jolie and Clive Owen meet cute, sort of. She’s at a black-tie gala with her husband; he’s with a starving African boy. Which begs the question: Shouldn’t they have fed the kid first? ”If we used anybody that was actually starving, we’d be in big trouble,” says director Martin Campbell.

Campbell worked hard to skirt the moral pitfalls of re-creating the Ethiopian famine, Khmer Rouge atrocities, and the Chechnyan conflict as a backdrop for the Owen-Jolie affair. In a pivotal scene, Jolie tries to save an emaciated baby from a leering vulture. ”I had an animatronic baby,” reports Campbell, but ”animatronics never work. It would just jerk and twitch.” So he resorted to digitally altering a toddler ”with a big head.” There were no such tricks for the Khmer Rouge scenes, in which the amputees were actual land-mine victims. Campbell and Co. built the village a water system as thanks.

And the kid at the gala? ”He’s perfectly healthy,” says Campbell — but for allergies that limit his eating and make him really thin. ”When Clive Owen hands him a banana in the scene, it had to be [made of] white chocolate,” Campbell explains. ”The worst of his allergies is bananas.”

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