MOURADE ZEGUENDI & OTHERS SAY THEY TOLD DE PALMA NO TO "TYPECASTING" ROLE AS TERRORIST
In a video posted yesterday to Facebook and Instagram, Brussels actor Mourade Zeguendi stated that he had been offered a role as a "Molenbeek terrorist" in an upcoming film being made by Brian De Palma, but turned it down. "Never in my life could I think I would refuse a role in a Brian De Palma film," Zeguendi says in the video. "Imagine: something that you only encounter once in your life, and you say no. De Palma makes a movie in Brussels and the role they present to me: a terrorist from Molenbeek. So I said no."
Two more actors then commented on Zeguendi's Instagram post, saying that they also refused the role in De Palma's upcoming, unnamed film. After Nasrdin Dchar commented, "Me too!", Fouad Hajji chimed in, commenting, "Happy to know that I was not the only one. After refusing, although I know I made the right choice. I was still hanging a few days .... :( ."
Cinematographer Mounir Ben Bachir asked in the comments if Zeguendi was told what the movie is about. "I can just tell you that Arabs will kill whites lol," replied Zeguendi.
Later, speaking by phone to De Standaard's Jeroen Struys, Zeguendi said, "I've got my belly full of this kind of typecasting." Sounding indignant, Zeguendi added, "I am fed up. Apparently, someone with a darker skin always has to play someone with only one characteristic: his skin color. That hurts me. There is a difference between playing a Mafioso and a terrorist. And when I heard that phrase: 'terrorist from Molenbeek', I said stop. This is not Afghanistan here, huh. As a father, a Belgian and an inhabitant of Brussels, I say: stop. Stop with that simplistic view of the world."
Struys' article continues:
More than a criminal with Moroccan accent
Zeguendi broke in 2009 with Les Barons, about four friends in Sint-Jans-Molenbeek. Their philosophy is that everyone in the world has a limited number of steps available. However, Zeguendi seems to be awarded a limited number of steps in his career. "After the success of Les Barons, I received offers enough for starring. I have to refuse that one by one because they were all stereotyped portraits of the immigrant."
Over the past few years he has had to take pleasure in supporting roles, in which he often excels. "Little roles, but at least characters that were more than a criminal with Moroccan accents."
4/30/17 UPDATE - AL JAZEERA NEWS ARTICLE
An article posted Friday by Anealla Safdar at Al Jazeera quotes Zeguendi's original video and then the Standaard interview, adding that the actor was thanking his fans for their support of his stance. Following all of that, here is the rest of the Al Jazeera article:
By the time of publishing, De Palma's representative had not responded to Al Jazeera's request for further comment.
Zeguendi, a 36-year-old actor, has appeared in more than 20 films and television series, and performs in theatre.
Joseph Fahim, a film critic, programmer and a lecturer based in Cairo, told Al Jazeera that Zeguendi's stance was "commendable".
"[But] does it herald a possible future resistance on part of Arab actors for these kind of roles? I doubt it," he said. "For every Zeguendi, there will be dozens of other actors willing to snatch the chance to work with someone like De Palma and justify their decision."
He said that several other artists had refused similar roles on account of being typecast, but not all decisions are made public "because actors usually refuse to sever their relationships with directors".
"So maybe it is actually brave of him to publicise this," said Fahim.