Seamlessly moving from one complex character to another, the talented actor has established himself as a honed performer known for selecting heartfelt and believable diverse but challenging roles.
With a series of successful roles under his belt, the dynamic Essam Elsakka has established himself as a man with many talents, an artist who oozes charisma and who has a great sense of humor to top it off.
Honing his skills and choosing the projects he works on with discernment, Elsakka is emerging as an established actor who can excel in all types of roles.
Egypt Today recently caught up with the talented actor to discuss the major leaps he has made in his career and his plans for the future.
1-Your first role was in Lahazat Harega (Critical Moments) in 2009. As a performer how have you changed since this role and all the way to your most recent portrayal of Haitham in Beit Ezz?
Between these two roles I see a long and tiring journey, full of happy moments and sad ones, loaded with successes and failures, a mixture of contradicted feelings that have shaped the Essam Elsakka who is talking to you now. At the end of the day without God’s will and support I wouldn’t have achieved any kind of success.
2-What attracted you to the Beit Ezz story from Ella Ana series? Did you expect the huge success of Haitham’s character?
The Ella Ana stories in general portray issues that come from deep within the Egyptian society, the characters are inspired by each of one us; in other words very Egyptian stories that are all so simple yet deep, authentic and convey the identity of the Egyptian family. That’s what made all the Ella Ana stories succeed. There are three things that attracted me to the “Beit Ezz” story: first the well written script, second the notable cast that houses prominent names such as the super-talented Sahar El-Saigh, Hagar El-Sharnouby, Tamer Nabil, in addition to veteran actors Roushdy El-Shamy, Salwa Mohamed Aly and Safaa Eltoukhy.
But what attracted me the most is that Haitham’s character is totally different from all the roles I have performed before, everyone sees him with one face but the truth is that he has a completely different face. Haitham’s fake persona is one of a helpful, kind and funny guy, but at the end the viewers discover that he had an agenda. Since I first read the Beit Ezz script I expected it would achieve booming success because the events of the series were so fast and interesting. The audience were drawn to it and interacted with its characters.
3-You also played Khaled in another Ella Ana story. Which of them was more difficult to portray?
Each of them has its own difficulties. I usually go deep inside the character to the extent that it affects me and I take quite a while to get rid of this effect. Khaled is a romantic but he is also hesitant and unable to take decisions, so it wasn’t an easy character to play.
4-Short five- or ten-episode series have become a trend in Egyptian drama. What do you think of the trend?
This kind of drama is not new, if you remember years ago we had what we used to call soba’ayat, which were seven episodes series. As a viewer I am totally with this kind of drama. Now all the Arab and international digital platforms rely mainly on short series that consist of a maximum of 5, 7, 10 or 15 episodes and this is what I call a condensed drama dosage. It makes the events of the series faster, more attractive and more exciting compared to the long series that fall into the trap of boredom. The Egyptian and Arab audiences are so smart, they don’t need a long series, full of boring details to understand the plot. Audiences today need fast and quick drama that narrates the script in the shortest way possible.
5-Some actors prefer long series so they can appear more on screen, gain more fame, popularity and money as well. What about you?
I have never thought of this, I choose my roles based on quality not on the number of scenes, because I strongly believe that the role that contains one or two strong and influential scenes is far better than one with a thousand shallow scenes. With time the audience will only remember these few remarkable scenes and will forget the dozens of weak ones. For example my role in COVID-25 was not big but on the other hand it was pivotal and remarkable, I appeared in Nasl El-Aghrab in only four scenes but people loved the character and were strongly affected by it. Before I accept any role I ask myself first is this role that will influence the events of the series or movie? If the answer is yes then I will go for it even if I will appear in only one scene.
6-There was a significant chemistry between you and Ahmed Salah Hosny in El Dayera (The Circle). What was it like being in that series?
The secret behind this chemistry is that me, Ahmed Salah Hosny and Tamer Shaltout are friends in real life so we weren’t acting, we were being ourselves on screen. The three of us know each other very well so we were all comfortable, everything was natural and this came through on screen. Ahmed is a spontaneous person so when you work with him you forget that there is a camera and everything is just so natural.
In acting in general I prefer to perform my role in the simplest and most natural way possible, I hate severe reactions and over doing it because I see such acting performance distract the attention of the audience.
7-You have a great sense of humor and this came through in Hisham or H’s character in El Dayera. Would you consider taking on a purely comic character in the future?
I love comedy and light comedy, but I prefer comic roles that depend on the situations rather than on words, because the comedy that depends on words isn’t necessarily funny. The comedy that is based on situations though lives forever. For example I’ve watched the movie Ghaby Meno Feh more than 13 times and every time I laugh as if I am watching it for the first time because it depends on the funny situations not on funny words.
8-You took a bold decision to accept a role in Hekayat Banat Part 5. Are you a risk taker?
Of course I took a huge risk participating in Hekayat Banat Part 5. It was not an easy decision because people were much connected with the characters of the first four parts, but the well-written script and Yassin’s character pushed me to take this risk. Yassin was an actor so it was easy and smooth for me to play this role, also most of my scenes were with Myrna Noureldin and she is an amazing actress so I felt that we were not acting. I really enjoyed this role and I was kidding with the director and said please don’t let Yassin die at the end because I have died in almost all my previous parts!
My master scene with Noureldin when I came to propose to her at her house and she rejected me was a difficult one because it was so romantic, heartbreaking and full of contradicting feelings of happiness and sadness at the same time, I was surprised to find that people were very moved by this scene.
9-In Ramadan 2021, you shone in three very different roles in Nasl El-Aghrab, Del Ragel and COVID-25. Which of them would you consider a milestone in your career?
I love all three of them. Nasl El-Aghrab touched more people from Upper Egypt, but if I have to choose one then it would be my role in Del Ragel with Yasser Galal because the audience really related to the story of Saeed and Shahed, and were happy when they got married at the end.
I was also happy to cooperate for the first time with Youssef El-Sherif and renowned director Ahmed Nader Galal in a strong science fiction series like COVID-25 because El-Sherif has his own large fan base and always has something new to present.
10-You played a zombie in COVID-25 despite many feeling Egypt doesn’t have the technology to pull off massive science fiction series. Were you worried when you signed up for the role?
No because I totally trust Youssef El-Sherif, Ahmed Nader Galal and Synergy. These giants wouldn’t risk their big names and would never produce something weak or unprofessional. I used to spend more than two hours in makeup to play a zombie, there was a lot of attention to detail and the end result was very impressive.
11-You have worked with many directors; who has influenced your career the most?
All of them, actually I learned from every director I have worked with. I learned a lot from Peter Mimi in the national epic El-Ekhteyar (The Choice) part one and in Kalabsh (Handcuffs) part 3 because Mimi teaches the actor the spirit of the character before performing it. I also learned a lot from Ahmed Saleh in the series Abou Gabal.
12-Tell us more about Haram’s character in El-Ekhteyar and that unforgettable martyrdom scene.
It was an extremely tiring episode, we paid attention to every single detail, we wanted to create an iconic scene befitting these exceptional martyrs. I contacted Haram’s family before performing the role, his father told me something that I will never forget: he said my son was an exceptional champion and I want to see and feel this on screen, Essam. I felt a huge responsibility to do something to honor Haram.