The Tunisian Actor Melting Hearts One Ramadan Series At A Time
By Lydia Schoonderbeek
“Would you like a coffee?,” Dhafer L’Abidine asks courteously. One Monday afternoon at a local coffee shop I get to meet one of the most delightful actors in the industry. With The Da Vinci Code, Sex and the City, Taht Al Saytara and more recently the Ramadan series El Ghorog already under his belt, L’Abidine has earned star status. It is safe to say that L’Abidine’s acting career has been relatively active for the last decade, with a more recent focus on the Arab cinema industry. Not only is he dashingly handsome, he has a very quiet sense of self-worth and a humble nature.
Starting this month, L’Abidine reaches a whole new dimension, playing a police officer in the Ramadan series El Ghorog due to start this month. Cairo West Magazine learns about his new role, upcoming projects, and more!
CWM: How did your path from football and modelling in Paris take you to where you are today?
DA: A lot of airplanes! More importantly I think it’s just really how you follow your dreams more than anything else and give it a go. To find the right place and the right path; where one thing leads to another.
I had a football injury, which ended my career in professional football. Then one thing led to another, I went to a casting with a friend for a modelling role, which was fun to do at the time, but I knew it wasn’t long-term. I then started working as an assistant director, but one particular project when we were shooting a TV commercial with a British team is when I decided to move to the U.K to study drama and English.
Looking at your roles over the years, both in TV and film, you have shown incredible versatility. Is this key to your personality?
I am consistent with myself! Acting in a way is to try different characters and through the process, it is an ongoing self-discovery. It is a great way as you are allowed to play with different characters all the time. Some actors take on a role and it stays with them for a while. Emotionally, when you do an intense role like the one I play in El Ghorog: a secret agent, we were shooting for 12 hours a day, and the entire time it was very intense. So the thing is you can’t go home and snap out, its emotionally draining. I finish the take and I try to be myself. It’s not very easy, but that’s what I try to do.
It can't have always been easy, what keeps you motivated?
I love the industry I work in, and where I am now. I’m doing something I really enjoy and have a passion for. It’s constantly new, challenging, and you get to meet new and interesting people. If you love something why would you want to stop? Somehow you will find the motivation to do it.
How does your family feel about your acting?
They’re happy about it, and it's not like I’m doing it for myself. My family cares that I am happy and in a way it reflects back to them. This is important for me.
El What can you tell us about your upcoming Ramadan series Ghorog?
It’s a thriller type of drama with Sherif Salama, Dorra, Ola Ghanem and directed by Mohamed Gamal El Adl. The series also has a social community side to it (iktama’eee in Arabic); it’s a great mix. I’m playing a police officer who he is very professional yet carries a load on his shoulders.
What else do you have in the pipeline?
There’s a sci-fi film with Jane Spencer, which is out next year called South of Hope Street. Otherwise I’ve been filming for a quite a while now, and need to take a break and spend time with my family.
With such a grueling schedule, how do you keep in shape?
The key is being consistent with food and exercise. Moreover, you need to be careful with your food intake, instead of having 10 cups of coffee a day just have 3, and to be careful not to eat late at night. Just the normal things we all know. Paying attention and being active helps.
Do you miss playing football?
I play football when I get a chance, which makes me forget about the world. For me it’s where your brain switches off and the only thing you are concentrating on is the ball. With football it’s you and the ball, I just love it.
Favorite comfort food?
Lots of chocolate
Hero or charming villain?
Somewhere in between
What is your favorite app?
I’m not a phone type of person, I’m trying to be, but it's something I’m not really bothered about.
Which song is on repeat?
Adele’s new album 25, all of it is on repeat.
What is your favorite city?
I am a citizen of the world; I like to see the good things in every place I visit. I like Cairo for things; I like London for other things and Tunis for certain things. There is always something great about the places you visit, and I don’t usually visit the same place twice.
Who was the last person you sent a text message to?
What’s your favorite book?
Unlimited Power by Anthony Robbins. This is the most inspiring book I have ever read, and it is an essential tool for helping you improve your life. I read this book when I first moved to the U.K. It gave me more direction and has had a positive impact on my life ever since.
Biggest life lesson?