Ahmed Malek has proven himself to be a capable and enigmatic rising star on the Egyptian cinema scene, all while remaining humble and dedicated to his craft. We were eager to speak with him and discuss his latest turn as Osama in this month’s socio-political thriller El Deif, and the star was willing to give us a glimpse into what it took to embody this complex soul.
CWM: In El Deif, you play the role of a man with personal beliefs that cause tension and conflict. What can you tell us about him?
AM: I found him to be an example of one of the members of my generation who is a bit lost in finding the meaning. In trying to find this meaning, there are some paths he takes that he believes are human, fair and righteous – but he isn’t looking at the big picture. Preparing for this film was different than any process I’ve gone through before, because I had to understand Osama’s ideology, philosophy, and acknowledge it intellectually, while also coming to grips with a human aspect. I found the script to be unique because it’s avant-garde and dialogue-based.
This was a very intimate set, closed and cozy, how did you find the experience on set with your fellow actors?
I acted in a similar intimate set on Crash, we were 20 people in a box basically, but this set was more compressed because we were only four actors and the tension is forward and clear rather than chaotic. The challenge was putting my own personal relationships with Shereen and Jamila aside and to separate this from our work on set in a healthy way. You don’t want to endanger intimacy if you go too far and make a boundary in an extreme way. Needless to say, Khaled El Sawy is a legend of contemporary cinema; we all look up to him.
What was the hardest obstacle to overcome while filming?
To find the freedom in being destroyed. Also, to find moments of lightness within this tension. I’m not sure how successful I was, but this is one of the more challenging aspects of acting. All this preparation and study lead to a moment where you switch off and “be” this person without overthinking every moment. Human beings just live, they don’t question every move.
What do you hope audiences take away from this challenging movie/subject?
As an actor, I just want to show the human condition through my own human condition so to speak. I can’t expect audiences will all react in the same way, but I do hope it will make them question more. I would be happy if people go out and ask more questions, create a discussion and challenge their perceptions.
What can audiences look forward to in 2019? Any personal goals or resolutions you wish you accomplish?
I’m hoping to do more stage work and explore work in the theatre. I am always trying to find the “life” in my characters and be able to successfully embody them, so I will continue working on that.
Favorite place to travel?
Music on repeat?
What angers you the most?
What makes you most happy?
I don’t know!
Favorite movie of all time?
Léon: The Professional.
Last book you read?
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.