After 9-11, Alexander Siddig faced his Arab heritage and learned how to relax.
Half-English and half-Sudanese, Siddig is not sure which side predominates. “I don’t know if it’s an English engine in an Arab body or an Arab engine in an English body,” he said. “I’m not quite sure which way around it was.”
After 9-11, “being Arab became a front and center part of my personality, in a way that it had never been,” said Siddig. “Now suddenly I had to face up to this new music and I excised the anger and defensiveness over a series of movies. In front of people, which is an interesting way of living I suppose.”
But an appearance in a movie began to set Siddig at ease with his heritage. “Ridley Scott, one of the most unlikely political bridge-builder, wrote this amazing part for an amazing actor called Ghassan Massoud, the Syrian actor who plays Saladin in the Kingdom of Heaven and I play his sidekick,” said Siddig. Roles in other movies such as Cairo Time enabled him to “[like] to be able to introduce people to Arab men, my Arab man.”
Siddig’s latest film, Miral, will debut next month. In Miral, Siddig plays the father of a Palestinian woman raised at the Dar Al-Tifel Institute after the death of her mother. Siddig was attracted to the film by its director, Julian Schnabel, but doing something he hadn’t done before didn’t hurt either. “I really loved the fact that it was a film about something that I hadn’t done a film about,” he said. “And I was kind of amazed that I hadn’t done a film about Palestine and that particular issue which started in 1948!”