Actor, director, photographer, musician and dancer, Ahmed Magdy exudes artistic creativity on many levels. His prolific output belies his relative youth, with his recent role in Amir Ramses’s Curfew garnering a lot of praise.
Our heart-to-heart chat with him revealed his thoughts on the film, and the world he moves in.
CW: As a man who wears several hats, where does your heart lie more strongly? Acting or directing?
AM: I like directing more because it gives more room for creativity. A director is responsible for so many factors in a film; the acting, picture, sound, music, and the editing. All of that makes directors luckier as artists, because they get to have many tools to work with and express themselves through several art mediums.
Acting is more limited, but in the world we live in, it gives actors fame, more work, and they take credit for their work easier and faster. Besides, it makes me very happy when I work with good directors and follow their directions, it stimulates the actor within me and excites me very much.
So I can’t really give you a definitive answer about which one I like more, but it actually seems like two sides of the same coin, I have both in my personality. All arts are beautiful, and cinema is beautiful, I love everything about it, I mean it makes me very happy when I hold a boom pole as an assistant sound engineer, or when I help with the décor, so the whole process is magical.
Does your directing background influence the way you prepare for an acting role?
Actually, what influences the way I prepare for my roles is more my acting experience, I mean theory and experience, but the director within doesn’t influence me at all while preparing. It might influence me sometimes if I felt that there’s something wrong or that there’s another option that might add something.
It’s more like a general vision or a small detail and I rarely get those kinds of thoughts or even express them, and when I do, they are sometimes taken into consideration and sometimes not.
What can you tell us about your character in Curfew?
First, I really enjoyed working with the cast and crew. They are all special, sophisticated and beautiful on the artistic level. Second, the character I’m playing is a kind and peaceable husband, and I was thinking about the word ‘peaceable’ the whole time in my approach to this character.
He’s loving, welcoming, open-hearted, and sensitive and whatnot. He might be quirky sometimes, not the smartest, he’s a little bit of a nerd. As for his appearance, I actually liked Amir as a character in general, along with his glasses and the way he talks, so I wanted to get a little closer to Amir and do something nice for him by wearing his glasses on the day I was trying on the costume.
Do you feel that it is easy for young actors to become typecast? How can they break out of that mold?
Yes, of course. It is very easy for young actors, male or female, to become typecast, and that has been happening in performing arts historically. There has always been this lazy industry that tries to remake successful things but make them a little bigger, smarter, and more fashionable.
They don’t have the will to take real risks and give artists space to really express themselves. So the way to break out of it is methodical and simple, but it has many steps that need to be followed, like staying away from trends that focus only on appearance and taste, just because it’s the general taste or actors’ tastes, especially in this industry.
I mean there are always these stages that are similar when everyone performs the same, dresses the same, talks the same, or even reads the same scripts. It’s always important to find your own way and voice, and embrace how you look like, your character and your background.
Is there any director, local or international that you would jump at a chance to work with?
Yes, of course. I would love to just meet them, not only work with them. So, it’s actually a very long list that I can’t restrict to a few names, but I still consider myself at the start of my career.
Yes, I’ve been acting for a while now, but I feel that I still have more energy to discover things in this world. I have more desire to learn and to be more open to working with, not only the good local and international directors that I like, but also the new and young directors who make new and different cinema.