Actor Khaled Nabawy’s starring turn in the 1994 film “The Emigrant,” the Egyptian equivalent of the biblical tale of Joseph, from auteur Youssef Chahine, put Nabawy on a larger stage, and has made him one of Egypt’s best-known actors, landing him roles in Hollywood pics such as Ridley Scott’s “Kingdom of Heaven” (2005) and Doug Liman’s “Fair Game” (2010).
PLAYING FOR PEACE
The 47-year-old Nabawy looks nothing like the nation’s late president, Anwar Sadat, but that didn’t stop him from drawing glowing reviews earlier this year for “Camp David,” at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., opposite Richard Thomas and Ron Rifkin. Nabawy says he was surprised he was chosen for the role, but welcomed the challenge “Everyone has his own secret” of getting into character, he says. “I believe in studying — and listening.”
Writing in the Washington Post in April, Peter Marks weighed in on the actor’s performance in the show, by Pulitzer Prize winner Lawrence Wright. “Nabawy impressively summons Sadat’s canny bonhomie,” Marks noted. Another reviewer let Sadat’s widow, Jehan, render the verdict, noting that at the curtain call on opening night, she embraced the man who played her husband.
It’s apt that Nabawy was chosen to play a political reformer. The thesp has kept a public profile on the Arab Spring and matters of women’s rights. “I believe that an artist is for the people, and fame is a responsibility,” he says, adding: “Sexual harassment is a worldwide cause. The children are the future, and the women are our life.”