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What happens when you combine extremely good looks, with x-men capabilities and some school boy charms? Khaled Abol Naga! Truly the boy from next door, he met us with lots of laughs and stories about his life, career and aspirations. Khaled, a Scorpio, likes Blondes, Molokheya and Juliet Stevenson and most important “people with character”. What else is there to this versatile Superman a.k.a Khaled Abol Naga? A lot!
Khaled, we know that you are a versatile person with many different skills. You are an engineer with a Directing Degree, a TV Host, Model and a successful actor. What’s your secret of success?
My secret of success? I do What Women Want! (laughs) I do what I enjoy most, so at this period of my life and for the past five years I’ve been concentrating on acting. I started getting lead roles in movies with a Box Office name and so on. I have 3 movies coming out this year where I believe to have gotten the chance to really show what’s in me. I hope I have achieved that, so I am always interested in more, I’ve been writing scripts and will make myself heard in Cannes 2007, I hope.
How did your film career begin?
It all started at the AUC theatre department when I went in to the theatre and saw Dr. El Lozy acting on stage. He is an amazing actor. He made me respect acting and inspired me to become an actor. That was the moment that I decided to become an actor. I will never in my life forget that moment. I acted before, but I had never respected acting as much as I did at this moment. From thereon everything changed in my life without even knowing. When I was at AUC all the plays I acted in were comedies except for one. When I started acting in films, I was never offered comedy roles; I was looked at as the model just for romance plots until I was offered “Harb Atalia”, which I turned into a comedic role to loosen the tension of the plot. What many people also don’t know is that I was the assistant director of Sherif Sabry for three years.
We all saw you in many different films. What’s you favorite film and role?
It’s hard to pick a favorite movie; “Sahar El Layali”, very dear to my heart as it has a lot of emotions and is about real people with real issues. “Mowaten wa Mukhber wa Haramy” is the most important movie I made due to its socio-political statement. “Banat Wust El Balad” is an experience of its own to work with Director Mohamed Khan and Wessam Soleiman, the writer whose sensitive writing I love. I am working with her on another film at the moment.
“Harb Atalia” was fun as I wanted to do something with a comic tone and never had a chance to because nobody saw me as a comedian. In “Leh Khalitny Ahebak” I was starring as myself Khaled, the TV host.
You have been awarded for you great acting skills: Which one is your dearest award, where you felt a great achievement and pride?
All of a sudden I don’t care as much about these awards the way I used the beginning, but one day I realized that the audience’s image or perception of me is more important than acquiring awards. At first, I had done only two or three movies and I got all these best actor awards and I thought I didn’t really deserve them as I didn’t have the experience yet to get all these awards. The ones who really should get those rewards were Hany Khalifa and Tamer Habib for “Sahar El Layali” as they deserved it the most (script and directing).
Tell us about ‘Civic Duty’?
It’s an independent American movie. I’ve been offered several roles in US productions before because I speak English. Mostly I was offered terrorist roles. Back in ’95 I was offered to act in ‘The Siege’, but I turned it down, for several reasons, first I will not portray a terrorist plus I don’t see why we should accept one-scene roles in foreign films thinking it’s a step forward, when we have built bigger names in Egypt. We have great actors and potentials why belittle ourselves? The problem is that we don’t have agents to get us good opportunities abroad. For ‘Civic Duty’ I was offered the role through the fact that “Sahar El Layali” was in the pre-selection for Best Foreign Film for the Oscars and “Hob El Banat” was shown at the Lincoln Center for Arab movies. I was in both films so this agent saw me, looked me up on the Internet and sent me the script. They wanted an authentic Middle Eastern actor for the role to portray an Arab living in the States. It is a low budget movie not a Hollywood production but with a very promising director (Jeff Renfroe) and its his second movie. ‘Civic Duty’ opened in New York last month at the Tribeca Film Festival with very good reviews. I had the chance to speak in a press conference about how misrepresented we as Arabs are in the media and that it’s about time that there were Middle Eastern voices in arts and cinema, which made a headline in the paper next day. So it was lucky move. After that it was shown at the Cannes Film Festival also with good reviews from international press.
Who is Khaled among his family and friends, away from the cameras?
Hm. I have six sisters and brothers and I am the youngest. We are 20 years apart. When I was born, the youngest of my siblings was 19 years old. I was brought up with my sisters kids. My family is spread all over the world. Tarek is in America, Seif in Japan, Hisham was in Saudi and the US but my sisters are here. We see each other by coincidence. I invite them to my premieres and whoever is free comes. My career came very gradually so my family used to attend my plays at AUC knowing it was a hobby so until now they didn’t quite grasp the transition form hobby to profession. I mean Hisham once asked me how work in the telecommunications is doing, where I had to remind him that I left engineering years ago! By the way Seif, my brother, acted in “Empratoreyet Mim” as a kid. I remember being 10 and walking with Seif in the Club and people talking about him and I thought wow my brother is famous. I used to play water-polo at Heliopolis Club by the way. I used to be the national goal keeper of Egypt for three years, and I used to be known for not letting a goal pass and got a couple of big trophies.