After giving us several compelling characters, the charming and authentic Eyad Nassar truly hit the big leagues in 2010, with his role as the Muslim Brotherhood leader, Hassan El Banna, in the series Al Gama’a (The Community). From then on, Nassar has enjoyed a wave of successes, including starring in series, such as Moga Harra (Heat Wave) and movies, such as Torab El Mass (Diamond Dust) and the recent hit El Mamar (The Passage). eniGma’s Youssef Hammouda & Zi sat down with the star to find out more about his creative methods.

When did you decide to pursue acting?

I had no firm plans to become an actor, but I did have a hunch that it was a field I should try. Originally, I was a painter, studying fine arts in college. However, during my studies I was surrounded by lots of people studying acting. I ended up contributing to some acting projects and discovered that I was really into it. It was in those moments, that the idea of becoming an actor crystalized.

Once I finished college, all of my friends and contacts were people going into the acting field, so I jumped into it too. I discovered that the painting part of me had ended and had been replaced by acting.

Which character took the most effort from you? How do you manage getting back to the real world after performing?

I invest a lot of effort into all of my characters, but especially in Moga Harra, where I played Sayed El Agaty, a character that’s the exact opposite of me. In most cases, I am a method actor, which means that instead of just acting the part, I become the part, requiring me to fully embrace the emotions and psychology of each character as if they are my own. This can be very hard to achieve and maintain, because it can affect your own mental wellbeing. In order to manage this, I often meditate before and after going into character. The key to not becoming self-destructive is to avoid being lazy. Many actors get lazy with taking themselves out of their characters, and when they play heavy characters it can really take a toll on them, causing depression and addiction.

Eyad Nassar with the eniGma team

Is it more difficult to play a character that is similar to yourself, or completely different?

I may have portrayed a character that is similar to me, but I don’t think I realized it then. Every time you introduce a new character, you have to expand or trigger within yourself whatever feeling or characteristic that is required within the character. For example, if the character has an expansive ego, you will have to exaggerate your own ego until it matches perfectly with that of the character. With Sayed El Agaty in Moga Harra, I was delivering a character that had an endless reservoir of evil. Sometimes I was really shocked as I acted, because I never expected to have that amount of evil within myself. I am currently preparing for a series where I play a dark hero who also has a huge amount of evil, and I’m not sure yet how I will handle it.

You seem to be focusing on the evil side lately, is there a reason behind this?

No, I just believe that every person has a good and evil side to them. No one acts exclusively on one side. If a character is purely good, then it is clear that it is just made up, because people like that don’t exist in real life.

Tell us about the recently released movie Casablanca. What attracted you to starring in this film?

I like the fact that this movie mainly targets the youth. The idea of the movie itself is also original; it doesn’t imitate anything else; plus, the cast is full of big names that are well-loved, such as Amir Karara, Amr Abd El Gelil and Ghada Adel. While audiences may have seen us perform separately, seeing us all together will be a whole new experience. Additionally, director Peter Mimi has such a unique way of doing action scenes, I think that his direction really brought Casablanca to a new level.

We know you can’t reveal too much about your upcoming movie, El Feel El Azraq 2 (The Blue Elephant 2), but can you tell us what drew you to the role?

I think I am lucky because my role has nothing to do with the novel. This means people will judge me by my performance, without comparing me to a character in the novel. While the first film was judged on its ability to live up to the book, this time we are using the same main characters, but with new events and no expectations. Hopefully, the film will be coming out in Eid al-Adha.

Tell us about your experience in El Mamar. What was the hardest part of the filming process?

The movie documents a very important historical moment which a lot of young people know about generally, without being aware of the actual events. Other films have paid homage to this period in history, but El Mamar delves far deeper into details that most audiences are not aware of. The film is all about failing; and instead of accepting the loss, you rise up again with greater potential.

El Mamar brought together a collection of exceptional actors and actresses who all worked together with great enthusiasm. This wasn’t an action movie, but a war one, which meant that everybody had to be true to themselves.

What people may not know is that some of the weapons had real bullets. With all the bombs and explosions, we really had to suppress our nervousness and act confidently. It was an exhausting experience. I remember shooting for 14 days, just for one scene.

Tell us about the upcoming movie New Year’s Eve, how was it working with Mohamed Sakr in his directing debut?

I can feel if a director is being genuine, and if his notions and perspectives actually match what we want to achieve. Working with Mohamed Sakr, I felt that he knows and understands what he is doing. He was able to build up a perfect rhythm for the whole cast’s operation.

Is there a role that you still haven’t played, and would like to in the future?

No matter how many roles I play, I never feel like I have done everything. When I start to think I have done a lot of roles, another one appears and grabs my attention. However, I would love to try comedy, especially black comedy.