Egyptian composer Hesham Nazih invited to join the Academy of Cinematic Arts

Egyptian actor Asser Yassin talks about “The Eight”, “Suits Arabia”

DUBAI: At this point, 2022 might as well be considered the year of Asser Yassin. The Egyptian actor has already dominated the global conversation during Ramadan as the lead in ‘Suits Arabia’, a remake of the beloved American legal series. Less than two months later, Yassin followed it up with what is set to be the show of the summer – MBC’s flagship crime thriller “The Eight,” which has already garnered rave reviews and big bucks. grades.

“The ambition of ‘The Eight’ is something I’ve never experienced before,” Yassin told Arab News. “The production budget was that of a major Hollywood show – the highest I’ve ever worked on. The crew was very international. But, most important to me, the character was someone I had never played before, and it kept revealing itself as we went along.

Yassin plays Adam, a man who suddenly finds himself at odds with the gang he once belonged to, surviving his own execution to set out on a path of revenge. The character, created by Saudi writer Turki Al-Shikh, proved to be a bigger challenge to comprehend than Yassin had anticipated.

Mohammed Alaa (left) and Asser Yassin (center) in “The Eight”. (Provided)

“For every movie or series that I do, I write a long background story for the character just for me, to understand them. For that, I couldn’t find any reference to any other character, not just the one I I hadn’t done, but in no other movie. It just felt different. It was really interesting to me,” Yassin continues.

Yassin himself is a lifelong film buff, a man who gave up his engineering degree against his family’s wishes because his love for cinema was so great. In the little free time he had at university, he starred in short films with his friend, who happened to be the son of legendary Egyptian realist Khairy Beshara, who during the 80s and 90s made some of the Egypt’s most important films, such as “El Towk Wa El Eswera” and “Yom Mor… Yom Helw”.

Beshara saw some of the two friends’ films and told his son he wanted to work with Yassin. It was a moment that changed his life.

“He’s my second father, a man I still call constantly,” says Yassin de Beshara. “He changed the way I saw myself, how I saw the movie, and how I saw life itself.”

Lara Scandar and Asser Yassin in “The Eight”. (Provided)

Yassin has modeled his own career on actors such as Al Pacino, Tom Hanks and others, he says, pushing himself to the limit in almost every project he takes on – sometimes too far for his own physical and mental health. . Adam, however, a desperate character with violence at his heart, didn’t make him think of any of the movies he’s long admired. For Adam, he had to go to people he knew.

“I first thought of my grandfather,” he says. “Adam doesn’t take no for an answer. He’s an idealistic guy who is driven to get revenge after the events of the first episode after the death of his sister and her fiancé. My father and my grandfather come from the Egyptian countryside. There, we understand revenge, and we understand family.

“My grandfather was a superb man, a soldier, extremely cultured. But when I was four years old, he came to me and said, ‘Asser, there are only four people you are going to prison for. Your father, your mother, your brother and your wife. You kill for these people,’” continues Yassin.

When he sat down to write his character’s story, he also thought of the father of one of his best friends, a surgeon who, in his spare time, hunted ducks on the land he owned in Beheira, near Alexandria in Egypt.

Asser Yassin and Mohammed Alaa on set. (Provided)

“During the revolution, he was there to hunt on his own. There was a group of people who decided that since there was no security, they were going to take over the land. They came in with shotguns. To their surprise, he decided to fight back. The bullets started flying back and forth until he took his car to run. They chased him, still shooting, until his car overturned. They left because they thought he was dead, but he survived,” Yassin says. “I imagined Adam sitting in the passenger seat of this car next to him.”

Yassin’s dedication on set was just as intense. Over time, he learned to focus on the project as a whole, rather than his own performance.

“It’s something I’ve done on the last two projects,” he says. “I consider the whole show to be mine. I’m always there to give my all, even if I’m not in the game. This is my project, this is my baby. I literally shed blood for him, whether in stunts, anger or stress. It was like that also on ‘Suits’. I am there every moment with this intention in mind.

On “The Eight,” that sometimes meant stepping in during moments of crisis. In a key stunt, a car packed with explosives was supposed to flip over, after which Yassin’s character was supposed to escape in a helicopter. Yassin knew, as this was one of the oldest Range Rovers with a low center of gravity, that it would be nearly impossible to start without proper preparation. “It took me back to my engineering degree,” he says.

Asser Yassin on set with Lara Scandar. (Provided)

As the sun set, Yassin sat down with the stunt coordinator. Explosives in the car detonated, but the vehicle did not roll over. As the filmmakers struggled to figure out what to do with a shot that had already been blown, Yassin took matters into his own hands.

“I threw everything I had aside, ran to the scene, got in the helicopter and left,” he says. “We had to do it.”

Ultimately, while Yassin has grown to have the kind of oversized on-set presence that’s reserved for only A-list actors, his goal isn’t to take charge, but to create space for creativity. , from top to bottom.

“I hate negativity, because ultimately we create. If I have tensions with a co-worker, I have to ease them somehow, or give them time until they go away,” he says. “I have to have a strong relationship on set with everyone from the actors to the director to the cinematographer to the gaffer. We all have to be on the same frequency. We are all equal, in the end. You can’t do well when you’re the only one doing well.

While Yassin’s dance card is full at the moment – he’ll be a main character in the ‘Sons of Rizk’ sequels and has two more movies in the works – he’s hoping ‘The Eight’ will return for multiple seasons, especially because of the response it has already received so far, both in Saudi Arabia and across the region.

“I think it’s an incredible project. It’s so rich,” he says. “There’s so much left to reveal about this character, and hopefully we can let that story unfold in season two.”

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