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Ahmed Ezz, Speaks Out

by Amr Selim

Life is not fair

 

Most of the film stars in Egypt face a tough beginning that is full of challenges to their budding careers until they became famous and successful. But for Ahmed Ezz who is one of today's Egyptian and Arab cinema icons, his main challenge was to make a decision to leave his successful and financially rewarding post in the hotel business and to work in a very competitive industry with no income guarantees. Thanks goes to his Managing Director when he told him; it is either in the hotel business or an actor. Ezz replied; this is not fair then his MD replied back to him "Yes that’s true, life is not fair".

A few years later Ezz became one of the top box office stars in Egypt. His boldness and serious character continue to grow with him year after year as he faces the challenges of life from a serious and bold position.

hemagazine is thankful to star Ahmed Ezz when he opened his heart and spoke his mind exclusively for HE magazine's readers in the following in-depth interview at a time where he might have preferred to stay silent.

Interviewed by: Amr Selim


Childhood

Like most kids, Ahmed Ezz was keen to play sports and played table tennis at the Maadi and Zamalek clubs where he won several local and African championships. But sport was not his only passion as he recalls; "I was so attracted to the films big billboards on streets and how they shined with light in the evening. I felt that my place was there, on one of those billboards. I also used to go to the school theatre a lot where my older brother Mostafa used to perform with the school acting team, Mostafa did not continue on in acting as he became an army officer; but I did."



First career

"I was so lucky upon my graduation when I found a job at the Accor group of hotels in reception and then I moved to the sales department. I managed in a very short time to achieve great success which enabled me to be the youngest regional sales manager at the age of twenty five earning good money at that time but I did not forget my dream of fame and I was wondering whether I should be a singer or an actor, I did not know what I should be but I decided to join the modelling business as a part-time job where I participated in several fashion shows and TV commercials. At that time, the actors Tamer Hagrass and Khaled Abou Elnaga were already ahead of me in the modelling field and I hoped that such work would give me a chance to appear on TV and increase awareness of me." Ezz explained.


Getting into the fame business

"In early 90s, several private studios were operating and teaching acting and I joined one of those studios belonging to Dr. Mohamed Abdel Hady and I owe him a lot, of course with Gods support, he taught me the mechanisms of acting" Ezz said.

"At that time, I used to wear a suit everyday during my hotel business meetings and used to attend casting trials where Yousef Shahin and Inas El Dighidy used to do lots of casting calls to discover new talented actors and actresses. I used to go to those casting events with my suit and tie and was rejected several times. This was from 1995 till 1997 and in 1998 director Sherif Arafa gave me a small role in the movie Kalam El Lill,(Night Talks). The roll was that of a young man who loves the star actress, star Yousra. Of course I was awful as I had no previous experience. Later on director Mohamed Shabban gave me a roll in the movie El Sharaf,(The Honour) with celebrated actor Farouk El Fishawy. In the late nineties Egyptian cinema opened its doors to new faces such as Mohamed Henidy, Ahmed El Sakka and many others. Inas El Deghidy was searching for new faces for her movie Mozakerat Morahqa(Teenagers Diary) and I joined and I earned LE 5000 which was still less than what I earned in the hotel business but acting on this movie would require at least a time dedication of three months." Ezz recalls.


Life is not fair

Ezz continued saying: "My father was against leaving my job at the hotel to become just an actor, he asked me to keep my job as it was prestigious and its income was guaranteed. He told me to join acting in my spear time or as a part time job, so I went to my Managing Director, Omar Mahani, a man whom I respect much and learned a lot from and asked him to give me a three months leave so I can play my role in the Inas El Deghidy movie. He told me that it was either keeping my job or acting in the cinema and my reply to him was that this is not fair. His reply was sharp and clear: Life is Not Fair. I believe that he did what was right for his business. I chose the cinema although it was a big risk with less money. I told my parents about my decision while we were dinning together and my father felt very upset and he left the dining table and did not finish his meal."



A man must work

"After I finished Mozakerat Morahqa, I had a difficult year and half when I stayed for the most part at home with no work. My father raised me and my older brother Mostafa and my younger one Moataz with a principle that a man must work and not stay at house and sleep till noon. I felt so bad on that time, no work no money and lots of debts so I went back to my former colleagues in the hotel business asking them to find me a job again in hotels, they offered me a lower title than I used to have with a lower salary. I remember that during that difficult time that my mother used to pray a lot for me. Her prayers paid off as I got a role in a movie by director Aly Abdelkhalek called Youm El Karamah, (Dignity Day). It was the true story of destroying and sinking the Israeli warship Eilat. Which allowed me to pay back some of my debts. Suddenly in 2003 and 2004 Allah just blessed me with lots of work and opportunities as I played different roles on three movies; Hob El Banat, Sana Oala Nasb and Malak Rohy where I was clearly presented to the audience and was well received by them, I truly felt that my mother’s prayers just paid off again and again," Ezz Explained.

Ezz Added " Later on I moved to a higher and more significant level of movie production when I worked with Oscar company producing a strong and successful movie every year, I worked with great directors such as Wael Abdallah, Amr Arafa, Ahmed Alaa and Sandra in the movies; Malaky Eskenderiya, (Alexandria Private), El Rahina (The Hostage), Magmoat Transit  (Group Transit), El Shabah, (The Ghost), EL Maslaha  (The Benefit), Badal faqed,  (Replacement), and El Haflah , (The Party). I also started a TV series called, El Adhamand another one called Excellence. Malaky Eskenderiya" was a real hit as it is a good suspense movie and we did not have such kind of movies in Egypt for a while. Things it began to roll forward with me."


My role models

"My role models are the same since my childhood, my early days in cinema and till now. They are a legends such as: Ahmed Zaki, Nour El Sherif, Roshdy Abaza, Mahmoud Abdelaziz, Adel Emam as actors and Amr Diab as a singer ad Robert Di Nero and Al Pachino as international actors. They are all have an important common feature which is they are still producing good and successful works and shine regardless their age. I believe to earn the title of "STAR" you need to have good continuous productions for at least 30 years and that there was no substitute for you, that is why I cannot call myself a star yet. I still need to work hard for few more years to earn it." Ezz confirms.


Egyptian Cinema controversy

"I don't agree nor believe that Egyptian cinema is losing its position in the Arab world cinema as the volume of production in Egypt is not comparable. Egyptian cinema remains the leading one in the region but in the past few years as a result of the changes happening in the way people deal with each other and the level of respect between people, things have changed. The type of movies being made changed too. This was in addition to the direction production took in movies that makes money quickly where also most of the movie stars started to act in TV series as it is good for making money. All these facts affected the quality of the Egyptian cinema. I believe the government should hire an experienced person who also loves and understands the business of cinema input and should be in a position where they work in cooperation with ministry of culture to promote and enhance the cinema industry and bring back the mix of literature and quality to the films. We need to have movies like Doaa El Karawan, (The Nightingale's Prayer). This person should receive financial support from the government but also should seeks extra financing through sponsors and supporters because intellectual movies will not necessary make good money in the beginning but step by step people will start again testing the good art and only then we can have hope to compete in the international film festivals. The government should treat cinema as a more important and effective tool than the press and journalism. We all learned different habits and ethics from cinema, the Americans managed to make the whole world hate the Russians through movies. Cinema is a strong and fast tool and must be well managed and well used." Ezz said.


The country is more important

“On the 25th January 2011 revolution, I spoke with famous TV commentator Amr Adeeb and I commented on the air that the country is more important. I meant by such a comment to warn everybody that the revolution is about to be stolen as after the 25th was divided and it was clear that the Muslim Brotherhood group was getting on top of it. I refused to participate in any committees or activities in President Morsi’s regime and I was among the first who went to the streets on 30th June 2013 and started to appear again during president Adly Mansour’s period trying to help and support by any means. Everybody must work hard so we can have a better life and a better Egypt." Ezz said emphatically.


The babies are not mine

"In the past few years I faced a dramatic personal problem when one of the Egyptian actresses declared that her twin babies are my sons. I did not give such a case a big care in the society by talking to the media much nor reacting aggressively because, first, I think that what Egypt faces now does not require discussion on such topics. Secondly, I said it before and will say it hundred times again, I would never talk or get involved in people’s honour or reputation and I would rather keep silent and be offended. I also believe that God give us a hard time and severe problems where we could beinnocent but still we have to live through such hard time and bear with God well and pass the test. God knows everything that happens to us whether it's bad or good. But I can assure you that I have nothing to do with this case. I did not marry or even promise anyone to marry her and those babies are not mine and the reason that I did not accept to do the DNA test is because I consider it an offensive and humiliating action and what is meant by Forensic Medicine is Forensic and legal issues not an illegal issues where any women can come forward and accuse any man of being her children's father. This, in addition to the shameful fact that money sometimes can buy and change some weak souls and you cannot guarantee getting the absolute truth. The same happens with media personals as most of them are good and faithful but some are bought by money which gave such a case a different prospective. One of the facts and rules which I quite understand and follow is that I cannot play or deceive God and I said before that this conflict is not mine I'm confident that one day God will unveil the truth to everybody. What makes me sure that God is beside me is the fact that after such case, my recent movie, Awlad Rezk,(The Sons of Rezk), achieved great success and good revenue and after all I gained a larger audience and fans." Ezz stated.


I would love to marry and have babies

"Both of my parents passed away a few years ago., I live alone now and I would love to marry and have babies. I agree that it is not easy for an actor or an artist to find the right partner but it is not impossible either. I don't care much about looks or the beauty of my future wife as much I care about her intelligence and personality because at home I'm not a star nor an actor, I'm just a man who could be very boring sometimes and demanding and seeking perfections too, she has to contain me and surround me with enough patience and love." Ezz explain.



Advice to youth and beginners

“My sincere advice to those who still are struggling to find a good career or good life is that income and success are set by God and you will get them even if you are staying at home. But of course this does not mean that we should sleep at home waiting for luck to knock on our doors but rather means that working hard and believing in God will get you to your destiny. My advice to everyone is to have good will and an honest spirit, to work as hard as possible and to avoid asking people for support or help but to count on yourself and finally and most importantly is to have enough faith on God as he is the only one who can help you to live well in a life which is sometimes seems to be unfair."

Ezz ended his talks.