JEDDAH: A young Saudi has become a social media star with his videos in which he mimics his silent-movie hero, Charlie Chaplin.
Mohammed Fawaz Al-Shimmari recreates in impressive detail the exploits of Chaplin’s famous “Little Tramp” character, a familiar figure around the world for more than a century with his toothbrush mustache, bowler hat, single-breasted black suit, white shirt and black tie.
His four silent Chaplin videos, produced in an authentic-looking vintage style, have collectively attracted more than half a million views, and the comments sections are filled with positive messages and “love” emojis in appreciation of his remarkable work and talent.
“It is a difficult task to make people laugh through silent comedy,” Al-Shimmari told Arab News. He said that he gained thousands of followers in a single day when he posted his first Chaplin video.
The 22-year-old from Tabuk said he is a big fan of silent cinema and has seen as many of Chaplin’s films as he can. He has also watched documentaries and read books about the British actor, who was one of the biggest stars in the early days of Hollywood.
He said his favorite Chaplin movies are “The Circus” and the “The Kid,” and his favorite book about the actor is “Charlie Chaplin’s Own Story.”
Al-Shimmari said decided to recreate the work of Chaplin to entertain his family and followers and had no idea that his efforts would prove so popular with a wider audience.
“I started impersonating Charlie Chaplin out of my love for him, out of my love for his character as well as his life,” he said. “He faced a lot of difficulties in his life but the king of silent comedy still made people happy. After I took on his personality, many people asked me to do more scenes.”
The production of his videos is a solo effort, he said.
“I am three in one: Scriptwriter, actor and editor — I do everything by myself,” he added.
Al-Shimmari said he has loved to act since childhood, when he would grab his family’s attention by making them laugh with his unusual facial expressions.
“When we used to gather as a family, I had to include entertainment in our night,” he said. “So, I started off by impersonating some of my relatives and they were amazed by my act.”
He then began to impersonate Arab and Western actors and celebrities, filming himself and uploading the videos to his social media.
“I started to act like the late Kuwaiti actor Abdulhussain Abdulreda, Syrian actor Yasser Al-Azma, Saudi actor Nasser Al-Qasabi, Saudi singer Rabeh Saqer and other legendary Arab actors,” said Al-Shimmari. “At the same time I also impersonated American actors such as Sylvester Stallone, Marlon Brando and Al Pacino.
“I am a lover of films and imitate international and Arab actors, and I was able to adapt to the surrounding environment to reach my goals and prove my talent in silent comedy and other artistic models.”
Asked if he aspires to a professional career in acting, he said he hopes film and television producers might notice his work.