CLAIM TO FAME: His starring turn in last year’s “Wolf,” about a kickboxer sucked into the criminal underworld, earned 31-year-old Marwan Kenzari a selection as part of Shooting Stars, a showcase of promising European thesps, at the recent Berlin Film Festival.
FOLLOW THAT GIRL: Kenzari grew up in a poor neighborhood in the Hague, and began acting when he was a teenager, after the girl he was seeing signed the two of them up for an audition for the tuner “Chicago.”
DRINKING IN THE MOOD: To play his hard-fisted, good-hearted character of kickboxer Majid in “Wolf,” Kenzari did 18 months of weight training, kickboxing and Bikram yoga. “I also spent a lot of time sitting in certain bars where I could capture the random behavior of young guys like Majid,” he says.
USING HIS ACTING MUSCLES: Right after “Wolf,” Kenzari limned Joe Pitt in the Tony Kushner play “Angels in America.” He says he enjoys the challenge of diverse roles. “From a talented kickboxer in a difficult world to a young Mormon struggling with his homosexual feelings is a big stretch,” he says.
WIDER HORIZONS: His next film, “Ratu Adil” will be his third with director Jim Taihuttu, with whom he made “Wolf” and 2011’s “Rabat.” And, repped by ICM, he’s in L.A. with an eye toward segueing into English-language pics. But he’s also been broadening his creative abilities. “I directed a Chekhov play recently,” he notes, “and I’m writing my first short film.”
LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP: Kenzari enjoys the process of acting, but allows it can produce an inward focus. “I dislike the fact that being an actor can make you a bit selfish sometimes,” he says. “During a shoot, (that’s) the only thing you live for. Explaining (to friends and family) why you’re away and not responding to calls and messages can be difficult.”