Actor Yasser El-Masry talks about role as Gamal Abdel Nasser in Al-Gamaa 2



Sat, 29 Jul 2017 - 02:46 GMT


Sat, 29 Jul 2017 - 02:46 GMT

Photos courtesy Yasser El-Masry

Photos courtesy Yasser El-Masry

CAIRO - 29 July 2017: Even before its Ramadan release, there was a lot of hype around Waheed Hamed’s El-Gamaa 2.

Met with critical acclaim, the series successfully attracted many viewers, not only in Egypt, but across the Arab world, given its strong script and topnotch performances.

One cast member that caught the audience’s attention was Jordanian Yasser El-Masry, who skillfully embodied Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. We catch up with El-Masry to talkn about his 20-year career and what’s next forthe talented actor.

Tell us about your background and when you first started taking interest in acting.

I was born in Kuwait and went to school there. Then, in 1990, when I was 19, my family and I returned to our home country, Jordan.

My childhood was like any other child’s: I grew up under the guidance of both, a loving father and a mother who raised me and my six siblings on tolerance, patience and diligence. God bless them. My journey with folk arts and folklore

started on stage when I was 16. Quite by accident, I substituted the main actor at the Second Festival for Youth Theater, which was organized by the Jordanian Ministry of Culture. It was my first major theatrical appearance in 1993, a journey that lasted for more than 20 years until 2007.

Between the two paths, folk art and theater, I performed some 40 roles in important plays. In 1996, I ventured into TV with my debut serial entitled Ors El-Sakr (The Falcon’s Wedding) directed by Ahmed Deaibes to whom I owe my introduction to the world of television. So far, we have worked together on five other TV series.

How did your music studies influence your career as an actor?

There is no doubt that both studying music and my specialisation in folk arts were the scientific bases which helped me gain experience in my acting career.

You’ve worked with many important TV directors during the last 20 years.

Who do you consider had the most impact on your career?

No doubt there were many stops that characterized my beginnings across Jordan and the Arabian Gulf, including starring as the title character of the 2007 series Nemr bin Adwan, whose positive reception is still echoing in the minds of the audience. Produced by the Arab Telemedia Group, Talal Awamleh, in Jordan, the series were the start of further collaboration on another historical one, Malek ibn El-Reib, directed by Mohamed Lotfy.

How did you land your co-starring role in the 2011 Egyptian film Kaf El-Kamar by Khaled Youssef?

This film came when I was looking for a new artistic adventure after many years in TV drama. I did not think that my gateway to Egypt would be with a high-class director like Khaled Youssef.

Acting in the film was like adding years of experience to my career, given its production values and the great ensemble cast.

In performing my characters Dahi and El Kott, I learned how to build the history of the character in flesh, blood and feelings.

I think that my casting in the film hasput me on the Egyptian art map and reflected the importance of cultural exchange between Arab countries.

I must also pay tribute to the late and great star of the film, Khaled Saleh, who was also keen to see me succeed. He was a great brother on and off screen—God rest his soul.

In 2014, I returned to Egypt with theRamadan series Dahsha, starring Yehia El- Fakharany as a character loosely-based on Shakespeare’s King Lear. It was a great acting experience playing the character Abou El-Yazeid alongside the great Hanan Motawe, who played Rabha.

How did you get your casting call for the role of Egyptian President Nasser in last Ramadan’s El-Gamaa 2?

Were you worried about being compared with other actors who played Nasser on the small or big screens?

It was the great scriptwriter Waheed Hamed who nominated me for the role of President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Of course I have watched the previous actors who played Nasser, including the late and great Ahmed Zaki, who made a great impression, full of honesty and sincerity.

All these actors had a good impact on the Arab audience as they have been very close to bringing back this great character.

As for me, I got the script of El-Gamaa 2 some 50 days before the start of shooting. Without feeling worried, concerned or tense, I focused my research on previous performances.

I studied the text which included dramatic details based on history. To portray the character, we researched the physical details and various Nasser moments: his calmness, serenity, anger and emotion in each scene, which intertwined with the whole text.

I must acknowledge the efforts made by the director of the series, Sherif El-Bendary, and our acting coaches, Osama Barakat and Youssef Noman, who helped me to perfect Nasser’s accent and tone.

After watching many videos, speeches, events and documentaries, and reading many newspaper clippings, I think I have succeeded in impersonating the spirit of Nasser to a large extent.

When the shooting started, all the actors, including myself, had already learned their lines like we used to do on stage.

I must also mention that makeup artist Mohamed Fahmy and director of photography Victor Credi helped me get closer and closer to Nasser.

El-Gamaa 2 included many difficult scenes written with dexterity, even those scenes without dialogue.

The most difficult were the Manshiya scenes, when the attempt on Nasser’s life took place, and the final scenes in the last episode.



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