What nationality will your Bond villain be since you are Egyptian?
That’s something that I discussed with [Director] Cary Fukunaga, I said: “We cannot identify him with any act of terrorism reflecting an ideology or a religion, that’s not something I would entertain. So, if that is why I am your choice then you can count me out.” And that was clearly not his vision.
You’re the face of a successful immigrant story. How would you advise your younger self and others who have the same dreams as you when you were starting out?
Well, I have a friend who came up to me the other day and he is a Caucasian-American who has married a Lebanese woman. And he saw his wife – her name is Mona – get very emotional during the Oscar’s speech, and he started to think: “She is now pregnant and they are going to have a child who’s going to identify growing up with you and your story, and now I have to look at the world in a different way, a way that I hadn’t planned to.” And I think that just put everything into perspective for me, when that affects the people coming into this country or who have been in this country, but the future. And it just shows you the impact that a story like this can have and I don’t ever want to abuse it, but I am not afraid to share it.
Is it true Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman director Dexter Fletcher wanted you to do a cameo in Rocketman as Freddie Mercury?
Very true! I thought about it and entertained it, and if there was a way to do it, we were going to try. But with the different studios, I don’t think there’s a chance in hell that Fox was going to let me go do that and it was a shame, as Taron [Egerton, Rocketman lead], and I are mates and we were really trying to make it work.
Are you an Elton John fan?
Lucy and I got to go to an Elton John concert in New York recently. I surprised her and she didn’t know where she was going, and I took her through the back door. This is the luxury of what’s happened in the past year in my life so that I get to call up Elton’s people and say, “Hey, could I get tickets to the show and surprise my lady with them?” And sure enough, I walked her right in and Elton blew us a kiss. So, these are the perks of playing a rock star!
You surprised her with an Elton concert. Does she surprise you?
She pulled off an amazing surprise one weekend for my birthday. Normally I don’t like to celebrate my birthday, but I could tell she was very nervous, and she planned an evening for the both of us and told me to be free that night and she took me up onto a rooftop and my jaw dropped. I saw Gwilym Lee who plays Brian May, and Joe Mazzello who plays John Deacon, and Ben Hardy who plays Roger Taylor, and Denis O’Sullivan, one of our producers and I was awestruck. She planned an entire weekend and flew everyone in, and I couldn’t believe that I was fortunate enough to have someone that considerate in my life.
What’s the secret to your relationship with Lucy?
Communication – it’s just all about great communication. I think with any relationship you have certain things that are necessary and that you can’t do without and we have those things.
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