Dhaffer L’Abidine, the renowned Tunisian actor -- also known simply as Dhafer -- was initially a professional soccer player in the Tunisian league, before he decided to take up acting.
Throughout the past years, L’Abidine was able to secure success in both the UK and Middle East, with a varied repertoire which includes television dramas in the UK like Dream Team, Spooks, The Whistleblowers and Wire in the Blood, as well as the BAFTA award-winning film The Mark of Cain and The Stone Merchant.
Dhafer has also been involved in Egyptian drama over the past three years with Vertigo, Niran Sadiqa and Farq Tawqeet.
This Ramadan, Dhafer plays a major role in Taht El-Saytara, along with Nelly Karim, Hany Adel, Ahmed Wafik, Jihan Fadel and Mohamed Farrag. The series is written by Mariam Naoum, directed by Tamer Mohsen and produced by Gamal El-Adl.
Speaking to Ahram, Dhaffer says that Taht El-Saytara constitutes a different experience. The drama’s events, he says, “depend on a certain intimacy with the human and social elements.”
In Taht El-Saytara, Dhafer is married to Mariam (Nelly Karim) a former drug addict who relapses. The series tells her story and that of other drug addicts in a raw and realistic way. It tackles the question of what can incite a human being to become an addict, or overcome addiction.
“I cannot judge past productions that dealt with this issue of drug addiction because I haven’t seen them. What is different about Taht El-Saytara is how it discusses the human and social elements,” he adds, mentioning scriptwriter’s Mariam Naoum’s great ability in narrating raw events as the reason.
Besides Taht El-Saytara, Dhafer is also starring in two other Ramadan series – 24 Qirat and Oreed Ragalon. Answering to whether this can have a negative impact on his popularity, Dhaffer says the most important thing is that “each character I play is different than the other.”
“Moreover, Taht El-Saytara is the only series, amongst the three, which is being aired in Egypt. 24 Qirat is being aired in Beirut, and Oreed Ragalon shows on OSN, which is a satellite channel and was preceded by a Part I before Ramadan,” he adds.
Dhaffer says he digs into the sub layers of each character he plays and undertakes intensive preparation for each role.
"There is a great improvement in Egyptian drama that has been unfolding recently. This has been facilitated by the integration of cinematic tools in the execution of TV drama series, whether through DOPs, or directors or actors," Dhafer explains
One differences between Arabic and foreign drama, Dhaffer says that in the past years there has been a “different vision whether on the quality of the filming it is presented with or the techniques employed.” What is different between both is how foreign drama gives more time to filming, which enables a deeper and more scrutinised focus on details.