INTERVIEW: Tunisian actor Dhafer L'Abidine discusses his directorial debut 'Ghodwa', future plans

Ati Metwaly , Monday 13 Sep 2021

Apart from directing 'Ghodwa', the Cairo-based Tunisian actor is also working on season 3 of the show 'Arouset Beirut' and a film titled 'Al-Ankabout'

Dhaffer L
Dhaffer L'Abidine (Photo: Al Ahram)

One of the invitees of MBC’s 30th anniversary celebrations that were shot in Lisbon last week, Ahram Online caught a moment with Egypt-based Tunisian actor Dhafer L’Abidine in Portugal’s Warner Bros Studios.

The evening brought together stars of the Arab World, MBC hosts, and producers from the region.

Without revealing any details, it is worth mentioning that L’Abidine played an important role in the evening’s festivities, and the viewers will be able to witness his unique presence on screen on 18 September on MBC’s channels.

A gentleman of the screen, L’Abidine’s career took many impressive turns, as he managed to juggle numerous commitments.

However, what seems to be occupying his mind the most recently is his new experience as a director.

“Directing my first film is among my priorities at the moment,” L’Abidine told Ahram Online on his debut film — in which he will also star.

Titled ‘Ghodwa’, the film is being written by L’Abidine and Ahmed Amer.

“Ghodwa follows Ahmed and his estranged sick father, Habib, who are brought together by Habib’s worsening state of health. With a deadline to catch and mounting pressure from unpredictable events, their roles are reversed, a situation neither is prepared for,” reads the film’s brief, which was released by MAD Solutions.

“Ghodwa is a social drama, based in Tunisia. The film does not reflect my personal experiences; it is linked more to what is happening now in the country,” L’Abidine clarifies to Ahram Online.

“It is a Tunisian production. The story is human, so it can speak to international audiences as well.”

“It is a story that I wanted to write and direct for some time. In fact, I have been thinking about directing for a few years now, and I am finally ready to embark on this path. I think that the time is right,” he added. 

He announced that Ghodwa will be released in 2022 and that he hopes to push the production to numerous international festivals.

“Directing is an amazing experience, and I am looking forward to sharing it with the viewers soon.”

Apart from his directing experience, L’Abidine continues to act in films and television series.

Stars attend the special anniversary episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. From left to right: Somaya El-Khashab, Nasser Al-Qasabi, Reem Abdullah and Dhaffer L'Abidine (Photo: MBC)

L’Abidine is currently working on season 3 of ‘Arouset Beirut’ (‘Bride of Beirut’): a highly popular romance television series that airs on MBC 4.

Starring opposite Lebanese actress Carmen Basibis, Arouset Beirut is an Arabic version of the Turkish hit show ‘Bride of Istanbul’ (‘Istanbullu Gelin’), produced by MBC.

L’Abidine has already worked with Basibis on ‘Layaly Eugenie’ (‘Eugenie Nights’): a 2018 TV series which takes viewers into the suburbs of Port Said.

L’Abidine’s current engagements also include ‘Al-Ankabout’ (‘The Spider’), a film directed by Ahmad Nader Galal, in which L’Abidine stars alongside Ahmed El-Sakka and Yousra El-Lozy.

“The film will be released next year,” the actor told Ahram Online.

With many commitments on his plate, L’Abidine is very careful when it comes to choosing his roles.

A unique face of the Arab World’s cinema and television, the Cairo-based Tunisian actor has already made headlines with many works, such as ‘Taht Al-Saytara’ (‘Under Control’): a 2015 Ramadan drama that drew a lot of attention to his performance as a husband of a drug addict, portrayed by Nelly Karim.

Equally successful was his role of Selim in ‘Halawet Al-Donia’ (‘Life is Beautiful’): a 2017 TV series in which he shared the screen with Hend Sabry as Amina. 

“There is no recipe for acting. Acting has to be natural, and the rest comes by itself. An actor should not force a character,” he commented.

A graduate of Birmingham School of Acting and a former professional football player, L’Abidine’s unique colour on screen came with a lot of work and persistence.

His education has definitely helped him grasp the nuances of acting as a profession.

“School is an important component of an actor’s development. However, there are actors who do not have acting or drama education and their talent allows them to build thriving careers. There are different ways, though talent is important for sure. It all depends on the person and many circumstances.”

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