In perhaps the most revealing interview ever published, Bidoun Magazine‘s Jamal Mahjoub talked to Alexander Siddig about his childhood, becoming an actor, how September 11 changed him as a person and as an actor, and more.
AS: … But then go back to the Kingdom of Heaven, for example, which I think is one of the bravest films to be made in the early part of this century, because it was the first film after 9/11 that said Arabs were cool. It was a tipping point that started a slew of films discussing Arab culture and Islam, reversing the process of vilification.
JM: Well, Kingdom of Heaven was certainly radical by Hollywood terms, though very much in line with Amin Maalouf’s book, The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, published twenty years earlier. People stood up and cheered in the cinemas in Beirut when Saladin paused in the church in Jerusalem to lift a fallen cross and put it back in its place.
AS: I think it’s an amazing piece. I’m not sure that the whole is as great as the sum of its parts. The film is better dissected. Nevertheless, I’d found my theme as an actor. This seems to be a kind of obsession of mine. The more I see pictures on Al Jazeera or the BBC of mad Arabs with blood running down their faces, wailing because their children have just been blown up in front of them, the more I want to show a solid, still figure.