Special-effects expert's Hollywood path began in Albania with detour in warring Kosovo

March 23, 2015 12:13 PM

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Gunfire from a dying war echoed in the distance as Ergin Kuke, who didn't know it at the time but was destined for Hollywood, hustled through a mountain night. Tanks clattered. Paramilitaries roamed. Kuke had spent days translating for journalists. He had escaped death at least once, and now, with a bump of cash in his pocket, he hailed a battered cab at the Kosovo border and headed south.

He arrived in Tirana, Albania, hours later, stepping into the house of his father, a well-known director. Although he spoke six languages, Kuke had been aimless before the war. He partied too much and drifted through the cafes of Europe's poorest country. But upon his return from Kosovo in 1999, he ...

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