Siddig Credits Star Trek With Making Him a Friendly FaceBy Michelle
December 6, 2005 - 8:26 PM
"I'm one of the luckiest Arab actors on the planet, because I've done, I think, two of the finest Arab roles that have been out in mainstream cinema for a very long time," Alexander Siddig told an interviewer in discussing his role in the new Syriana as well as his last major role in Kingdom of Heaven.
"The personal trip for me has been wonderful," Siddig, who played Dr. Bashir on Deep Space Nine, told ComingSoon! "I have an English side called Alexader and a Sudanese side called Siddig, and they're beginning to meet each other in me, let alone the greater picture, and I'm hoping that people from both sides will meet each other. There's a personal journey, which I would love it if it was reflected in the bigger, wider world."
Siddig credited Ridley Scott, the director of Kingdom of Heaven, with breaking him out of what Coming Soon! labeled the "Star Trek curse" that might have typecast him. "He was the person who went 'I love Star Trek and I'd love it if you were in my movie,'" explained Siddig, noting that Oliver Stone had not wanted to cast him in the less-successful Alexander, which worked out quite well for the actor.
Scott, added Siddig, "was the one who put me in a grown-up movie...there are parts that you can do them all your life, and no one knows you're even acting, and there are other parts which people notice that you're in and you become an actor from the movies and people take you in a whole different way."
Saying that he is on a "rather pretentious diplomatic trip" publicising Syriana, Siddig noted that Deep Space Nine had been instrumental in getting him known as a relatively friendly face to American audiences. "I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for 'Star Trek,' so it's pretty great," he stated.
In Syriana, Siddig plays the son of an emir trying to secure the best bid on the oil drilling rights for his country. "It would be impossible not to be drawn to this movie as an actor, especially as an Arabic actor," he said. "I end up speaking so grandly, when I don't know if I have the right to, but to pass up the diplomatic potential of a character like this would be really foolish. I think whether you're in the Middle East or in Europe or America, you can identify with this person."
He called Nasir a heroic figure, noting that many Arab spokespersons do not appear polished to audiences familiar with a Western cult of personality. "He's the chance that America had to turn things around, if only they hadn't been so angry that he'd given the contract to someone else...I'm happy with just good and bad, as long as they're both there. As long as it's not just some guy shouting 'Allah Akbar' on a Boeing 747, then it's terrific to see more."
Siddig talked about how instrumental his mother's brother Malcolm McDowell has been in his choice of acting as a career and said that of his upcoming projects, "The thing I'm most interested is about Hannibal, an epic about Hannibal, but it's a low budget one. It's not the Vin Diesel one. We've only got one elephant."
Syriana opens across the United States on December 9th. The original interview is at ComingSoon!