In a very different and amusing role, Bassel Alzaro showcases his impressive acting capabilities in the pan Arab production, El Haramlek as a Russian spy, Martin. The historical series features the time of the Ottoman Empire’s instability, telling fictional stories about the people of this era, with extravagant costumes that make you feel like you travelled a century in time. We’ve met with the multi talented actor to talk about his role, personal views, and more!
1.You played a very different role this year in the historical series El Haramlek, playing a character from history is always challenging. Tell us more about your preparations for it?
I decided to take the role because it was so different and very interesting for me. At the beginning, the Russian dialect part was not pre-planned. He was a translator in the English consulate, but when I met Director Tamer Ishak, he told me I looked more of a spy than a translator. And so we started developing the character more. My co-actress Jenny Asper is Syrian Russian, she was the only one who spoke Russian at the location and hence helped me use the dialect.
2. What was the most scary aspect of playing your character Martin?
I was working with a non-Egyptian crew who have a very different work style. In Egypt, we can repeat the same scene multiple times until we get it right but with them, 95% of the scenes are one take, so you have to be very focused. Another challenging aspect was using an accent that can be understood by the entire Arab world, and not just Egyptians.
3. Tell us more about the concept of manhood at the times of the series, what could a man do at the time to enforce his masculinity?
There are different types of men in the series, we have Samer El Masry, the romantic aggressive thug and Bassem Yakhoor, the Religious. What I liked most about Martin is the fact that despite that he’s a russian spy and went through a lot of trouble, he still found a girl to love who would have sacrificed her life for him. The series shows that when men respect women, regardless of the time or age, he’ll get a lot in return.
4. What’s a trait that you want to acquire from Martin’s character?
The hair wig! It was my very first time to wear it. The producers really cared about the tiny details of the series to deliver high quality content. I also loved his romantic and action side.
5. Women at different times and ages were sometimes respected and sometimes put under certain restrictions, which of them do you think El Haramlek represents?
They had a lot of restrictions, but they had a lot of rights as well. What’s apparent for us is that the men are in control, but if you watch closely, you’ll see that women do what they want indirectly.
6. Why do you think if women cheat, there are no chances of forgiveness as opposed to when men cheat?
In our Arab community, we keep saying that girls and boys are equal, but we don’t act accordingly. However, I think we have new generations with different mentalities.
7. What do you think of women’s role in the series El Haramlek?
We have a lot of leading females in the series. The roles show that women are not always ‘cute’, we have women who kill and poison. I think we had pretty strong female roles.
8. If you have both a boy and a girl, will you raise them equally, or will you put specific rules for girls?
If you asked me this question five years ago, I would have said I’d be more flexible with the boy because he’s in charge of himself. But after getting exposed to different cultures here and abroad, I think I’ll be less flexible with the boy too.
9. Who’s the woman who has a huge impact on your life?
My mum. She’s the reason behind everything. She always picked the best for us, even if it’s at her own cost
10. What’s your favorite movie?
All Mahmoud Abd El Aziz’s movies. I admire his work. When I watch him, I feel like I’m in a lecture taking notes.