Back in the 90’s, Yasser Farag was standing in the middle of a football stadium in Zamalek and Meaawleen Clubs, when he kicked off the dream of becoming a professional football player and decided to shoot for a career in acting. As a high school student, he used to go watch his eldest brother who was studying at the Faculty of Law, Ein Shams University, where he was the head of the acting committee, who used to act in annual performances. He found himself very interested in every detail and started contributing with productive comments which impressed his brother who made him take him in some of the rehearsals. When it was time to apply for college, without hesitation, Yasser decided to study at Higher Institute of Dramatic Art, and Soon after that, he started being on several TV Serials.
1) What are you working on at the moment for Ramadan?
Right now I am shooting two TV serials that will hopefully be aired in Ramadan 2010, God willing if we managed to finish their shooting in due time. The first one is ‘October El Akhar’ written by Fathy Diab, directed by Ismail Abdel Hafez and starring Poussy, Farouk El Fishawy and Yousef Shabaan, in which I am playing the role of Nabil, Poussy’s son, a policeman in the public funds Investigation who fights back a powerful well connected businessman who has unjustly taken over and occupied his land. The second serial is ‘Ragol Men Haza El Zaman’ which tackles the life of the great Egyptian Scientist Ali Mosharafa, directed by Inam Mohamed Ali, where I am playing the role of Mostafa Mosharafa, Ali’s brother who leads a very interesting, rebellious yet adventurous life between London and Cairo. I hope that these roles meet the viewers’ approval.
2) Are you satisfied with the quality of Egyptian serials today?
We tend to think of film and television as rival media, but their histories are so deeply intertwined that thinking of them separately is often a hindrance to understanding how the film and television industries operate, or how people experience these media in their everyday lives. Starting from when the Egyptian television began broadcasting daily series, soon after that, the immense success associated during the month of Ramadan both in terms of viewership and commercials as a result of the creation of the prime time segment post Iftar and the trend to release new series at that time annually, scriptwriters and studios were encouraged to write more TV serials and produce more hours of film taking the attention away from the theaters. Also, from the quality of today’s movies, it has become apparent that feature films are merely passing through movie theaters en route to their ultimate destination on home television screens. Be it a series or a movie, once on TV, you are making history.
3) Why we don’t see you that much in cinema screens? Do you prefer TV?
The reason you don’t see me much in Cinema is because the good roles and good scripts are limited. if there are any, they become taken before they are even finalized. A good role in a well written script is like a rare diamond nowadays, it is so difficult to find a well put together idea and a new character that can add value to my career path while entertaining the audience and respecting their mindset.
The current status of the Egyptian movie industry is very disappointing; we are in the Summer Time, a key season for the movie industry and how many movies are showing now? Around 10? How many of them are worth watching? Around 2? Seriously, it is very depressing. Personally, after my role in the hit movie ‘Ahlam Omrena’, I was very optimistic and hopeful but the roles I was offered were very poor and I had to reject them. Eventually, I found myself withdrawn from the Cinema, so I was forced to lower my standards and accept roles that I don’t fully appreciate, an action, I am not very proud of, I am afraid but had to do. This is in contrast to the television, where thank god, I am offered good, different and challenging roles.
4) You played a lot of different characters, what type of characters do you like to play villain, a romantic?
I like to play the villain because generally the evil roles require so much more effort as opposed to the ‘good’ roles and greatly affect the drama line of the whole work be it a series or a movie. “Abas El Abyad Series” and “Ahlam Omrena Movie” are good examples that evil roles stay memorable and remarkable. Especially in the Egyptian Movie Industry, when one presents a “good character”, they’re generally quite naïve, making the role lack depth. Also, the audience has become very smart and appreciating of the effort and quality of work that the actor puts into the evil roles. Also worth mentioning, that I have played many Good Guy roles in both television like: Ahl El Donia, Sarah, Habib El Roh, Ala Nar Hadya and Afrah Eblis. In Cinema I also did some of the Good Guy characters like: Khalij Nemaa and Abdo Mawasem. Worth mentioning, Samy, my character in Layaly Series that aired during last Ramadan, a well educated engineer who has become a drug addict, you can witness the transformation of the character from a successful hopeful young engineer who is happily married and has a lovely daughter to the development of drug-seeking behavior, the vulnerability to relapse, the decreased slowed ability to respond to naturally rewarding stimuli, withdrawal symptoms, and less motivation for normal life activities Throughout the series you will see how the disorder of the addiction has ruined his life and taken away everything that was once important. Samy is a very controversial character, he is a good person, a loving father and husband, in spite of becoming a drug addict and irrespective of the murder they blamed him for, one can’t help but empathize with him and feel sorry for what has become of him, the life he once had and now destroyed. I heard viewers were really moved by the death scene of Samy, it was a very emotional significant scene. For those who didn’t get the chance to watch Layaly, I really hope they do, it is being aired at the moment on several drama channels, and you can also download the series online. Thank God for computer technology.
5) Can you give us a few tips/pointers on how to make it into acting? Where should one start?
If someone feels he has got talent, he has to endorse it with education. Where he will further exploit his abilities and most importantly learn how to manage them, control them and use them at the right time.