Siddig Wants To Be A Diplomat Between Two CulturesBy Michelle
October 20, 2005 - 8:36 PM
Deep Space Nine's Alexander Siddig (Dr. Bashir), who has worked in the past few months on many high-profile films and television projects, said that he thinks of himself as "a diplomat first and foremost", someone who traverses Eastern and Western cultures as a prominent Arab presence in the entertainment industry.
"I'm someone who didnít even discover that I was Muslim until I was in my late-thirties," Siddig told East-West Woman (via the Sid City Forums). "Prior to 9/11, I was happily going along, doing my own business and not too concerned about my ethnicity." Now, however, the half-English, half-Sudanese Siddig (born Siddig El Tahir El Fadil, referred to as "Sid" both before and after he added "Alexander" to his name) said he realizes that he cannot avoid other people's perceptions. Mentioning being stopped and searched on the streets, he added, "I completely understand why that happens in sensitive parts of London."
Siddig appeared in Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven, the George Clooney feature Syriana, and several upcoming projects including the title role in Hannibal. The nephew of Sadiq Al Mahdi, a deposed ruler of Sudan, Siddig explained that until recently it was dangerous for him even to visit his birthplace and noted that growing up in England, he encountered little prejudice. "Maybe I had a particularly privileged or unusually cushy environment," he said.
Another uncle, Malcolm McDowell (Soran in Star Trek: Generations), encouraged a career in acting, though Siddig knew "I donít look English, and I donít look Midwest American. Iím not going to play someone with Dutch ancestry or a white American. But then, most actors canít be many things, even if theyíre the most average-looking, white, blue-eyed blonde guy."
Playing Emir Feisal in A Dangerous Man: Lawrence After Arabia brought him to the attention of the Star Trek producers, who cast him in Deep Space Nine, which Siddig called "a wonderful opportunity." When the series ended, he found the separation from the cast traumatic and wondered "if Iíll ever completely escape Star Trek." He said typecasting is a problem but he believes that "if I can act well enough, Iíll get the jobs.Ē
Siddig said that he is proud of the work his fans have done fundraising for Doctors Without Borders (his official web site, Sid City, has also been involved in fundraising for victims of Hurricane Katrina). He hopes to work on a film noir project with McDowell this fall in which he would play "a psychotic Moroccan cop", though politics continue to weigh heavily on his mind. "I am a product of twin cultures," he concluded. "If I can bring them together, if I can do anything to help, then that is wonderful."