Jordan Hoffman: So let’s talk about the new movie Cairo Time, which I think is the first time you’ve played a romantic lead, is that correct?
Alexander Siddig: It is indeed, it is. Since I was at school, that’s the first time I’ve played a romantic.
Jordan Hoffman: How much fun is it to woo the hearts of audiences like that? To lay on the charm thick for the sake of the audience?
Alexander Siddig: It’s pretty great. It wasn’t so much, I have to confess I wasn’t really thinking of the audience when I was in Cairo but I – to gaze into that lady’s eyes [Patricia Clarkson] is quite thrilling.
Jordan Hoffman: Your character sort of welcomes this woman into the Egyptian culture and the city of Cairo; how much familiarity did you have with Cairo prior to making the film?
Alexander Siddig: Well, you know it’s one of the places that’s sort of been in my reference library all my life in the sense that I was born in the Sudan which is the neighboring country and up until – I mean forever we’ve had a treaty with Egypt and immigrants come and go; my whole family lived in Cairo for years. And so it was a familiar place and I’d been there in the 80’s as a kid really, so I knew my way around and I felt very comfortable and relaxed there. So it was easy to make the little leap from a Sudanese man to and Egyptian man which I had no problem doing.
Jordan Hoffman: So you didn’t have to think it too much.
Alexander Siddig: No, I really didn’t. It’s a really honest city for all its evils. It can be quite filthy – that’s not exactly an evil is it by world standards. But it lays itself out to you as a tourist. London for example, is an impossible city. You need to know people in London to find out where things are and what’s going on and you can’t make friends here unless you were kind of born here. So, Cairo is much more friendly and available to people.
Jordan Hoffman: So when you were shooting this film, it was a Canadian production, but it’s still a large western production and there isn’t too much of that on the streets of Cairo. How were you treated by the general population?
Alexander Siddig: They were completely puzzled by us. They were like, ‘what the Hell is that?’ they just couldn’t quite make out what weirdness we were doing. This was bigger than an ordinary video camera, we weren’t just saying hi in front of a landmark we were doing scenes, so when they could they would sort of jostle into the frame to get involved. Which was fine on some levels, but as soon as they started looking into the camera and stuff it was a total nightmare.
Jordan Hoffman: So that shot of nearly getting hit by a motorcycle, was that actual?
Alexander Siddig: We really did – well it was a stunt, but the interesting thing was that the stunt guy had never done a stunt in his life – was not a stunt man. He literally tried to run her over. And I must have buried my nails deep into her arm to get her out of the way she was absolutely – she was shaking afterwards. She wasn’t used to that.
Jordan Hoffman: Was it all Egyptian crew? Or was it Canadian crew?
Alexander Siddig: It was a beautiful mix actually. It was a whole jumble of different people. The Egyptians were brilliant, I mean really brilliant; and kind of cool and cosmopolitan and wanted to take us all out to cool places to hang out in the evenings. Egyptians – thank God you know Cairo is not a dry city and is not massively fundamentalist. It’s got fundamentalist aspects, but you can still have a really swingin’ time.
Bashir and O’Brien
Jordan Hoffman: Who from the old days that you don’t get to see do you like to hang out with the most at conventions?
Alexander Siddig: You know I love hanging out with Nicky deBoer.
Jordan Hoffman: I see.
Alexander Siddig: She is just hilarious; great, great girl. And um if I see Colm Meaney we’ll have a drink and bitch at each other. That’s all we do. I realize looking back at my history with him, I went out with him twice a week every week for seven years – drinking. Boy, he can pack em away.
Alexander Siddig: And all we did was fight. And I guess that’s what they did on the show too. But we fought in real life all the time. He would set me up, he’d take me to Irish bars where they hated English people. I would think they were being racist about the fact that I’m black and they weren’t. The just hated the English people, they would just hear my accent and they’d – and he just laughed his head off.
Jordan Hoffman: Did you ever actually play darts, though, is the real question.
Alexander Siddig: No. No. That would be very weird.
Jordan Hoffman: There needs to be a separation between art and life.
Alexander Siddig: Yes, because that was the only separation, the dart game.