Whether it’s his role as “Omar” in Qabeel, “Nader” in Lee’bet Al Nesyan, or “Javid” in the American Movie Infidel, there is no doubt that Aly Kassem has been rising to stardom, and it’s all for the right reasons. The Egyptian actor has an exceptional presence and talent that enable him to ace any character he plays. We had the chance to chat with Kassem about his experience in Infidel and his upcoming projects as well.
From “Lee’ bet Al Nesyan” to Hollywood, how did you come about this role?
Well, Lee’bet Al Nesyan is considered my 4th Ramadan project after Qabeel, Tayea, and La Totfe’ Al Shams, but it’s unrelated as this role is considered a virgin first step in the international market. I had an audition, and this is how it usually goes internationally, even though the audition can be challenging for some Arab actors. I got the chance to do it through a friend in Jordan, where the production was taking place, and I got the role two weeks later. This movie was actually shot a couple of months after Tayea, so that’s before Qabeel, Lee’bet Al Nesyan, and a lot of other Egyptian projects.
Tell us about your 1st experience as a Hollywood star?
Well, this is my first experience in Hollywood, but I am not a Hollywood star. It takes years and years to build a name and be well known in Hollywood, and the process takes a much longer time than the local market of course. Of course, being in foreign production, it was a very insightful, lovely, and smooth learning experience. It definitely gave me confidence and knowledge.
How was it like working with Jim Caviezel? And Is it any different than working with you fellow Arab actors?
It was a very good experience indeed, and no, it was not different.
Don’t you think that you can be trapped in villain roles?
No, I am not afraid of being stuck in any type of role, because I believe it’s 100% controlled by the actor. You get to accept or refuse the role, and you make your own plans.
How does the movie represent the current political situation in the Middle East? Or is it just a fictional thriller?
I wouldn’t say how accurate it is, because the situation in Iran is quite different than the situation in Egypt or the Middle East, and they are considered two separate scenarios. I am not really the best judge to say how well it represents it as the movie is written by Cyrus Nowrasteh, who is from Iran and lived there most of his life. I believe he is the one who can really have a saying in this.
They all say that “it all started when I imagined myself acting with that person” Who’s that person to you? (the actor you look forward to acting with?)
Well, I didn’t have a specific person that was on my mind at the beginning of my career. Of course, I have a lot of actors/actresses on my mind that I aspire to work with, like Joaquin Phoneix for example, and many talented and great Arab actors/actresses that I have yet to work with like Maged el Kedwany, Mona Zaky, Menna Shalaby, and a lot others.
When will the movie hit theaters here in Egypt?
I don’t think it will. After all, this is a medium budget American movie. I think from the beginning it was meant to be distributed in America, Canada, and maybe some European countries, but I believe it will be released on global platforms
What are you working on at the current time?
I am working on two projects. The first is a movie called Kira Wa El Gen directed by Marwan Hamed, and it includes a very big cast starring Karim Abdelaziz and Ahmed Ezz, alongside Hend Sabry, Sayed Ragab, Amina Khalil, Ahmed Malik, Huda el Mufti, Ahmed Abdel-Azim, Ruby, and Arfa Abdul Rasul. The movie is set in 1919, and it’s definitely a very exciting project that started at the beginning of 2020. The second project is an online series called Tah’ee’, which is a 13 episode Watch iT original show. The cast is relatively fresh and young including Ahmed Malik, Khaled Anwar, Tara Emad, Huda el Mufti, Mai El Gheity, and Zeinab Ghareeb. I would consider it a new genre from the way it’s being executed by Shank in his first directing experience, and this makes us very excited to see the end product because we hope that it turns out to be different. We really don’t care whether it will be viral, successful, or a big hit, we just care that it will be authentically different.
What are the things that were available there during the shoot that you feel that Egyptian (or Arab) production houses don’t have?
I think the scheduling and level of organization in the production process are really fascinating, You can have a schedule up to 4 or 5 month and people stick to it. I would say we are definitely capable of doing that here, but I have never seen it happen.
In a nutshell, we are a bunch of opinionated writers that care about quality content. Our team is small, but it’s a team of people who really do care about what they do. Passionate and dedicated. Honest and respectful. Professional but informal. Quirky and personal.