Siddig Prepares To Take On 'Hannibal'By Michelle
May 13, 2006 - 6:42 PM
Alexander Siddig (Bashir) spoke to an early-morning BBC television show, apologising for appearing to be "drunk and disorderly", about his new TV movie Hannibal which airs tomorrow night in the UK.
Though he joked that he was paid "a pack of crisps and half-pint lager" for his role as the Carthaginian general, Siddig called the production a "valiant effort" to produce a feature film-quality TV movie on a much smaller budget. The film, he explained to BBC Breakfast (via Sid City), was put in "the capable hands of Ed Bazalgette, the director, who is one of the great directors at the moment at the BBC...one of Ed's specialities is making something that cost 10 quid look like it cost 10 million."
Hannibal was shot in Bulgaria, which Siddig described as an up and coming holiday resort. "They have mountains...and they've got the sea, the Black Sea, and everything in between," he said, noting that the country has all the attributes of Italy necessary to recreate the Roman Empire invaded by the Carthaginians. However, they had to import elephants, "these beautiful ladies who followed us around everywhere and scared the living daylights out of the horses we were riding. If they even smell elephants, the horses start to panic." But the elephants, he added, were well-behaved.
The attraction to the role of a man who led a battle in which 60,000 Romans were killed in a day, "carnage on a massive scale", was in part the education he received, explained Siddig. "He was certainly up there with Alexander the Great," he said of Hannibal, calling him one of the five great generals in history and one of the most obscure. By Hannibal's era, he discovered, "the Romans weren't the greatest military empire in the world...the Carthaginians were way more sophisticated." This was a surprise to him, that the African civilization was so much more powerful: "They were a huge merchant culture and remarkably civilised", and eventually beat the Romans at their own game.