It’s rare to find an eclectic Egyptian actor these days.
Just look at Mohamed Heneidy and Mohamed Saad, who stick to comedy, or Ahmed El Sakka and Ahmed Ezz, who are always associated with action flicks.
But superstar Ahmed El Fishawi, son of the legendary actor Farouk El Fishawi and Somaya El Alfy, is a breath of fresh air on the Arabic scene.
Having taken on several comedy and drama roles in television shows, such as El Amma Nour (Aunt Nour) and Tamer w Shawkiya (Tamer and Shawkiya), as well as films Shabab Online (Teenagers Online) and El Hassa El Sabaa (The Seventh Sense), El Fishawi’s latest movie, 45 Youm (45 Days), which is out now in cinemas across the UAE, sees the young actor take a completely different direction and the results are superb.
Directed by Ahmed Yousry, El Fishawy plays troubled teenager Ahmed Ezz El Deen, who is arrested and found guilty of murdering his parents. Over 45 days, a psychiatrist, played by Hisham Selim, must determine his state of mind and decide if he must be referred to a mental institution or receive the death sentence.
“I read the script about a year before filming started, and it had been passed on to many actors, such as Ahmed Ezz, Ahmed Helmy, and Hany Salama, but they couldn’t do it due to conflicting schedules,” El Fishawi tells Emirates Business.
“The moment I started reading, I simply couldn’t put it down. It’s very deep, and incredibly interesting.”
Not to mention very different from the comedy and action fare usually associated with Egyptian cinema.
Also starring Ezzat Abu Ouf and Ghada Abd El Rezk, who play his character’s parents, 45 Youm was originally based on the life of real Egyptian serial killer Ahmed Helmy, who stalked his victims in Cairo’s upscale Mohandiseen area in the early 1990s. The script went through numerous rewrites over the years and the characters were completely fictionalised. “There are still segments that relate to the real story, but that happens with any script. It was the inspiration I guess,” he says.
Shooting took place in 2006 over three months between Cairo and Agamy, but as El Fishawi points out, almost the same amount of work had to go into preparing for the role itself. “Because it’s a psychodrama, I visited a psychiatrist friend of mine, Hisham Sadek, and we started talking about the movie,” he says.
“Over the next few months, I worked with him getting to know how a person like Ezz El Deen would act. You know, what he was thinking and what his personality traits were.”
The effort certainly paid off, judging by the reviews the film received when it debuted at the 13th Tetouan International Festival in Morocco early last year. Success here is sure to follow.
“It’s great that 45 Youm is releasing in the UAE, because it gives movie fans the opportunity to check out something different. The direction is amazing and music plays a big part in the film – it goes very well with the story. It’s kind of similar to the sort of thing you saw with Edward Norton and Richard Gere’s characters in the movie Primal Fear.”
That brings the subject nicely around to El Fishawi’s Hollywood ambition. Word is that the controversial actor wants to break on to the international scene.
He certainly stands a chance: he has the looks and talent to carry him and he speaks perfect English.
So are the rumours true?
“Yeah, I’ve been there to see what it’s like and I wouldn’t mind doing something in the future. In a perfect world, my dream would be to work with Johnny Depp or Angelina Jolie – actually I’d prefer Angelina,” he laughs. “Brad Pitt better watch out.”
He’s working on several projects in Arabic at the moment, however, including Waraet Shafra (Code Paper), where he makes a special appearance alongside several actors, and Zay Elnaharda (Like Today), which also stars Maha Abu Ouf and Amr Salama. That apart, he’s concentrating on his music, too.
“I have a hip-hop group called Getto Pharoz and we’re working on an album, which will be released soon.
“Hossam El Hosseiny used to be part of the group, but then he moved to Arabian Knightz [which recently enjoyed success with the hit Fokkak, whose video featured El Fishawi]. But we all meet up and work together and that’s why I did their video and they appeared in my video for Waraet Shafra.”
So what’s next? “I’m focussing on my music, plus I’m preparing for the next season of Tamer w Shawkiya, to be released this Ramadan.”
45 Youm. Out now on general release. Details on Getto Pharoz at www.myspace.com/gettopharoz
Breaking out of the mould