The A.V. Club just posted a fantastic new interview with Sid as part of the TUT promotional rounds, but rather than focus solely on the mini-series (premiering tonight on Spike TV), it covers numerous roles and projects. Part of a series called Random Roles, the interview runs the gamut from Sid’s first time on screen – playing Tut, no less – through DS9, 24, Syriana, Kingdom of Heaven, Da Vinci’s Demons, Game of Thrones, even Un Homme Perdu! It’s a lengthy, very informative read as Sid gets candid about life as a working actor.
AVC: At what point did you decide that you wanted to pursue it as a career?
AS: When I was about 41… and that’s true! I had been kicking and screaming to be a director for the best part of my life. I was directing onstage when I was 23 or 24, I did about five shows and never earned a penny, and I was thoroughly enjoying my romantic garret existence. And then I was offered this job on a TV series called The Big Battalion, because I was pretty much the only Arab actor of my age in the U.K. at the time, and they needed an actor who could go to Mecca without being shot. My [birth] name, Siddig El Fadil, was acceptable as a Muslim name, so they couldn’t bar me from entering Mecca. So that was how I got into acting, in the sense that it was my first real foray into the business… apart from my early appearance as Tutankhamen. [Laughs.] And you know what? I was paid something like £1,500 a week. And I was paid nothing as a director. So I thought, “Well, this is just great!” So I ended up falling into other projects because of that. And I literally was a word-of-mouth actor: I very rarely had an agent putting me up in the early days, so it would be someone seeing me in a show and asking me if I could do another show, and that culminated in doingStar Trek: Deep Space Nine. So I’ve failed upward most of my life.