Egyptian actor Asser Yassin talks starring in ‘The Eight,’ ‘Suits Arabia’

Egyptian actor Asser Yassin talks starring in ‘The Eight,’ ‘Suits Arabia’
“The Eight” is on MBC. (Supplied)
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Updated 30 June 2022

Egyptian actor Asser Yassin talks starring in ‘The Eight,’ ‘Suits Arabia’

Egyptian actor Asser Yassin talks starring in ‘The Eight,’ ‘Suits Arabia’
  • The Egyptian actor on his stellar year starring in ‘Suits Arabia’ and ‘The Eight,’ his intense preparation process, and getting more involved on set

DUBAI: At this point, 2022 might as well be deemed the year of Asser Yassin. The Egyptian actor already dominated the global conversation in Ramadan as the lead in “Suits Arabia,” a remake of the beloved American legal series. Less than two months later, Yassin has followed it up with what is poised to be the series of the summer — MBC’s flagship crime thriller “The Eight,” which already has garnered rave reviews and big ratings.

“The ambition of ‘The Eight’ is something I’ve never experienced before,” Yassin tells Arab News. “The production budget is in line with a top show in Hollywood — the highest I’ve ever worked on. The crew was very international. But, most important for me, the character was someone I’d never played before, and he kept revealing himself as we went.”

Yassin plays Adam, a man who suddenly finds himself at odds with the gang he’s long belonged to, surviving his own execution only to set off on a path to revenge. The character, created by Saudi writer Turki Al-Shikh, turned out to be a greater challenge to figure out than Yassin had anticipated.




Mohammed Alaa (left) and Asser Yassin (center) in “The Eight.” (Supplied)

“For each film or series that I do, I write an extensive background history for the character just for myself, to figure him out. For this, I couldn’t find a reference to any other character, not only that I had done, but in any other film. He just felt different. It was really interesting to me,” Yassin continues.

Yassin himself is a lifelong cinephile, a man who abandoned his degree in engineering against his family’s wishes because his love for film was so great. During what little free time he had at university, he starred in short films with his friend, who happened to be the son of the legendary Egyptian realist Khairy Beshara, who during the Eighties and Nineties made some of Egypt’s most significant films, such as “El Towk Wa El Eswera” and “Yom Mor... Yom Helw.”

Beshara saw some of the two friends’ films and told his son that he wanted to work with Yassin. It was a moment that changed his life.

“He’s my second father, a man I still call constantly,” says Yassin of Beshara. “He changed the way I saw myself, how I saw film, and how I saw life itself.”




Lara Scandar and Asser Yassin in “The Eight.” (Supplied)

Yassin has modeled his own career after actors such as Al Pacino, Tom Hanks, and others, he says, pushing himself to the limit on nearly every project he takes — sometimes too far for his own physical and mental health. Adam, however, a desperate character with violence in his heart, did not make him think of any of the films he’s long admired. For Adam, he had to go to people he knew.

“First and foremost, I thought of my grandfather,” he says. “Adam doesn’t take no for an answer. He’s an idealistic guy who’s driven to revenge after the events of the first episode after his sister and fiancé die. My father and my grandfather come from rural Egypt. There, we understand revenge, and we understand family.

“My grandfather was a superb man, a military man, extremely well-read. But when I was four years old, he came to me and said, ‘Asser, there are only four people you go to jail for. Your father, your mother, your brother and your wife. You kill for these people,’” Yassin continues.

When he sat down to write his character’s background history, he also thought of the father of one of his best friends, a surgeon who, in his free time, hunted ducks on the land he owned in Beheira, near Alexandria in Egypt.




Asser Yassin and Mohammed Alaa on set. (Supplied)

“During the revolution, he was there hunting by himself. There were a group of people who decided that, since there was no security, they would go and take over the land. They went in with shotguns. To their surprise, he decided to fight back. Bullets started flying back and forth until he took to his car to run. They pursued him, still shooting, until his car flipped. They left, because they thought he’d died, but he survived,” says Yassin. “I imagined Adam sitting in the passenger seat of that car next to him.”

Yassin’s dedication on set was just as intense. With time, he’s learned to dedicate himself to the project overall, rather than just to his own performance.

“That’s something I’ve been doing on the last couple of projects,” he says. “I consider the whole show mine. I’m always there to give it my all, even if I’m not in the shot. It’s my project, it’s my baby. I literally spill blood for it, whether it’s in stunts, in anger or in stress. It was like that on ‘Suits’ as well. I’m there every moment with this intention in mind.”

On “The Eight,” that sometimes meant stepping in during moments of crisis. In one key stunt, a car packed with explosives was supposed to flip, after which Yassin’s character was supposed to escape in a helicopter. Yassin knew, as it the vehicle was one of the older Range Rovers with a low center of gravity, that it would be nearly impossible to pull off without proper preparation. “That went back to my engineering degree again,” he says.




Asser Yassin on set with Lara Scandar. (Supplied)

As the sun went down, Yassin sat with the stunt coordinator. The explosives in the car went off, but the vehicle didn’t flip. As the filmmakers scrambled to figure out what to do with a shot that was already blown, Yassin took matters into his own hands.

“I threw everything I had aside, ran into the scene, got onto the helicopter, and left,” he says. “We had to get it done.”

Ultimately though, while Yassin has grown to have the kind of outsized presence on set that is reserved for only the top leading actors, his goal is not to take charge, but to create a space conducive to creativity, from top to bottom.

“I hate negativity, because in the end we’re creating. If I have tension with a colleague, I have to smooth it over somehow, or give it time until it fades away,” he says. “I have to have a strong relationship on set with everyone, from the actors to the director to the cinematographer to the gaffer. We all have to be on the same frequency. We’re all equal, at the end of the day. You can’t do well when you’re the only one doing well.”

While Yassin’s dance card is full at the moment — he’ll be a lead character in the “Sons of Rizk” sequels and has two other films in the works — he is hoping that “The Eight” will come back for multiple seasons, especially due to the response it’s already gotten thus far, both in Saudi Arabia and across the region.

“I think it’s an amazing project. It’s so rich,” he says. “There’s so much left to reveal in this character, and I hope we’re able to let this story unfold in season two.”


Actress Sofia Carson shows off Zuhair Murad look in New York

Sofia Carson showed off an ensemble by Zuhair Murad in New York. (Getty Images)
Updated 32 sec ago

Actress Sofia Carson shows off Zuhair Murad look in New York

Sofia Carson showed off an ensemble by Zuhair Murad in New York. (Getty Images)

DUBAI: US singer and actress Sofia Carson was spotted in New York wearing an ensemble by Lebanese designer Zuhair Murad this week.

Carson attended the Global Citizen Festival in a coordinating look from Murad’s resort 2023 collection. The outfit featured an embellished crop top and mini skirt set with matching thigh-high leather boots.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sofia Carson (@sofiacarson)

The actress was dressed by celebrity stylist Nicolas Bru.

Metallica and Mariah Carey led an A-list of musicians at the event on Saturday, and President Joe Biden made a surprise video appearance, as the Global Citizen Festival sought to mobilize action against poverty and climate change.

Marking its 10th year, the six-hour festival brought thousands to New York’s Central Park and featured a sister show in Ghana's capital Accra, where performers included American R&B great Usher and British grime icon Stormzy, AFP reported.

Global Citizen awards tickets to fans in exchange for their commitment to take action to eradicate extreme poverty — such as contacting elected representatives to encourage foreign aid — and coincides with the annual UN General Assembly in hopes of raising pressure on world leaders.

Other performers included Maneskin, the new-generation Italian glam rockers who put on an energetic set, Spanish pop star Rosalia, and the Jonas Brothers, with Nick Jonas' wife, Indian screen star Priyanka Chopra, serving as master of ceremonies.

It is not the first time Carson has attended a high profile event wearing an ensemble from the Middle East.  

In July, she hit the red carpet at the premiere of Netflix movie “Purple Hearts” in a deep purple gown by Lebanese couturier Elie Saab.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sofia Carson (@sofiacarson)

The actress, who stars in the film, attended the premiere at The Bay Theater in Pacific Palisades, California, wearing a gown from Saab’s Fall 2022 collection.

The dress boasted a tightly pleated purple skirt, along with a floral-embellished bodice with a statement high collar in black.

The 68-look ready-to-wear collection from which the gown hails was unveiled in Paris in March and was “about strong women, strong characters, a little rock ‘n’ roll,” the designer told Vogue US at the time.

It’s only fitting then that the dress was shown off by singer and actress Carson, who is signed to Hollywood Records and has a number of singles under her belt.

The multi-hyphenate most recently starred in “Purple Hearts,” which tells the story of an aspiring singer-songwriter and a soldier who fall in love against all odds.


UAE artists set to exhibit at the 16th Lyon Biennale of Contemporary Art in France

UAE artists set to exhibit at the 16th Lyon Biennale of Contemporary Art in France
Updated 25 September 2022

UAE artists set to exhibit at the 16th Lyon Biennale of Contemporary Art in France

UAE artists set to exhibit at the 16th Lyon Biennale of Contemporary Art in France
  • Wonderful talent showcase, says Noura bint Mohammad Al-Kaabi, minister of culture and youth
  • Hashel Al-Lamki, Mohammed Kazem, Chafa Ghaddar will work under event’s theme ‘Manifesto of Fragility’

DUBAI: Three artists from the UAE are set to represent the country at the 16th edition of the Lyon Biennale of Contemporary Art, which will run from Sept. 14 to Dec. 31, with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Youth and the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi.

Multi-disciplinary creator Hashel Al-Lamki, conceptual creative Mohammed Kazem and mural artist Chafa Ghaddar will present their work at the biennale, which is being held under the theme “Manifesto of Fragility.”

Mural artist Chafa Ghaddar will present their work at the Biennale. (Supplied)

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the UAE to showcase its talent at such a prestigious platform. We have immense respect for the Lyon Biennale, which is marking its 16th edition this year. The UAE is making its presence felt at global art events and this is one of its significant participations,” said UAE Minister of Culture and Youth Noura bint Mohammed Al-Kaabi in a statement.

“The UAE artists exhibiting at this event are known names in the contemporary art world and they will be presenting distinctive works enriched by Middle Eastern and Arab influences. I look forward to seeing their participation in the biennale, wish them a very successful exhibition and I look forward to seeing the fruitful results of the collaboration between these artists come to life.”

Featuring 230 works by 34 artists and more than 300 archival documents from nearly 40 collections worldwide, the exhibition will showcase new creations by living artists alongside historical pieces from museums in the French city.

It will also present loaned collections from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (also known as the Met), the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, and from many of Lyon’s leading cultural institutions, such as the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon, the Lugdunum Museum and Roman theaters, and the Musées Gadagne.
 


Palestinian Dutch model Bella Hadid goes minimalist for Jil Sander in Milan

Palestinian Dutch model Bella Hadid goes minimalist for Jil Sander in Milan
Updated 25 September 2022

Palestinian Dutch model Bella Hadid goes minimalist for Jil Sander in Milan

Palestinian Dutch model Bella Hadid goes minimalist for Jil Sander in Milan

DUBAI: After a hectic week walking the runways at New York Fashion Week, Palestinian-Dutch model Bella Hadid is taking Milan Fashion Week by storm. On Saturday, the 25-year-old supermodel closed for German minimalist fashion label Jil Sander wearing their Spring-Summer 2023 ready-to-wear collection.

The collection, sporting both men’s and women’s looks, and designed by Luke and Lucie Meier for the label, featured loose, monochrome fits, embellished by beads, fringes and metallic fabrics, giving them a shiny, glam sheen. “We looked at clashing glamour into very simple workwear, our fundamental very simple pattern cutting and then doing things that are more eccentric,” Luke said backstage to Vogue about the new collection.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid)

Hadid walked the runway wearing an oversized sleeveless black blazer and fringed cream skirt, paired with white sneakers, holding an umbrella as rain poured down on the outdoor site. “A dream of mine &an honor ... Lucie and Luke … you are so wonderful, thank you,” posted Hadid on Instagram. 

Adding a pop of color to the ensemble, Hadid held a bright red bag and finished the look with silver earrings and a matching bracelet.

At Milan Fashion Week, Hadid also walked for Italian luxury label Versace, alongside other Arab models including Gigi Hadid, Imaan Hammam, Nora Attal and Loli Bahia.

“I have always loved a rebel,” Versace said in show notes. “A woman who is confident, smart and a little bit of a diva.”

While Bella was an unblushing bride in a deep purple lace corset and crinkled satin skirt, her sister Gigi wore a dark hoodie dress with a high slink factor.

Hammam, who has Dutch, Moroccan and Egyptian ancestry, wore a shiny black mini dress that featured a hood and plunging neckline. She also wore a furry coat.

British-Moroccan Attal stepped out in a form-fitting purple dress with fringe details at the hips, while Bahia, who has French and Algerian roots, graced the runway in a hot-pink dress with a short bridal veil.

Hadid also makes her TV debut next week as she stars in season three of the Emmy-nominated series, “Ramy,” premiering in the Middle East on Oct. 1 on streaming platform OSN+.

In an interview with GQ Magazine, Hadid, who stars as a “weirdo girlfriend,” recalled moments on set that made her heart full. On the first day, the crew surprised her with a shirt that stated “Free Palestine.”

 

 

 


Versace taps Arab models Bella, Gigi Hadid for Milan show

Versace taps Arab models Bella, Gigi Hadid for Milan show
Updated 24 September 2022

Versace taps Arab models Bella, Gigi Hadid for Milan show

Versace taps Arab models Bella, Gigi Hadid for Milan show

DUBAI: Italian luxury label Versace’s runway at Milan Fashion Week was packed with Arab models including Gigi Hadid, Bella Hadid, Imaan Hammam, Nora Attal and Loli Bahia.

Donatella Versace’s collection conveyed female power in a way that only the label can.

“I have always loved a rebel,’’ Versace said in show notes. “A woman who is confidence, smart and a little bit of a diva.”

Gigi Hadid (R) and models present creations for Versace’s women’s spring-summer 2023 fashion collection. (AFP)

The show conveyed a strong sense of female ritual as models traversed a runway lit by dark candles and lined with stained-glass windows with the Versace medusa head, before exiting through glass-enclosed spaces where bathrobe-clad men lounged on gilded chairs amid purple columns, underlining a shift in the power dynamic.

Gigi, who is of Palestinian-Dutch descent, wore a dark hoodie dress with a high slink factor, while her sister, Bella, was an unblushing bride in deep purple lace corset and crinkled satin skirt.

Hammam, who is Dutch-Moroccan-Egyptian, wore a shiny black mini dress that featured a hood and a plunging neckline. She also wore a furry coat.

British-Moroccan Attal stepped out in a form-fitting purple dress with fringe details at the hips, while Bahia, who is French-Algerian, graced the runway in a hot-pink dress with a short bridal veil.

Bahia graced the runway in a hot-pink dress with a short bridal veil. (AFP)

The color palette was decidedly dark, rooted in purples and blacks, with some flashes of red, lime and fuchsia.

Emily Ratajkowski, Paris Hilton and Irina Shayk were among the models who walked the runway.

Ratajkowski wore a leather micro-mini with a tough biker jacket and studded handbag.

Hilton closed the spring summer 2023 show in a tropical-pink Swarovski-crystal mesh bridal dress with lace degradé finishes and a deep-cowl neckline. A veil was secured by a tiara, a re-make of that worn by Madonna in the 1995 Atelier Versace campaign.

Hammam and Attal also walked the runway for Italian fashion label Max Mara.

Hammam wore a black turtleneck crop top and a beige floor-length skirt. Her hair was in a slicked-back bun.

Attal wore a beige floor-length dress with a brown floral print.


Iraqi para-athlete Zainab Al-Eqabi walks runway at Boss show in Milan

Iraqi para-athlete Zainab Al-Eqabi walks runway at Boss show in Milan
Updated 23 September 2022

Iraqi para-athlete Zainab Al-Eqabi walks runway at Boss show in Milan

Iraqi para-athlete Zainab Al-Eqabi walks runway at Boss show in Milan

DUBAI: Iraqi sports enthusiast Zainab Al-Eqabi walked the runway at Boss’ show at Milan Fashion Week on Thursday as she joined supermodels such as Naomi Campbell, Ashley Graham and Jourdan Dunn.

“We are done. Clap for me,” TV presenter Al-Eqabi told her followers on Instagram Stories after the show. 

“I was very happy and proud to be the only Arab (in the show). I can’t find the right words to say how epic it was, the whole show, and to be part of it.”

Al-Eqabi wore a beige coat with black detailing for the show, along with a black turban and boots. (Getty Images)

Lebanese stylist Cedric Haddad shared Al-Eqabi’s picture and wrote: “Goosebumps. Proudly Arab.”

Dubai-based influencer and entrepreneur Karen Wazen, who was seated on the front row at the show, wrote: “I love you Zainab.” Iraqi content creator Deema Al-Asadi told Al-Eqabi on Instagram: “This just made my day.”

Al-Eqabi wore a beige coat with black detailing for the show, along with a black turban and boots.

She was not the only Arab on the fashion week runway as Imaan Hammam, a Dutch model of Moroccan-Egyptian descent, walked the catwalk for fashion company Max Mara on Thursday. 

She wore a black turtleneck crop top and a beige floor-length skirt. Her hair was in a slicked-back bun. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Imaan Hammam (@imaanhammam)

The brand presented a neutral color for next season, which ranges from gray to khaki and was set off by shades of yellow, green and blue. Shoes are platform sandals while hats feature oversized brims.

Hammam also featured at the Moschino Fashion Show, looking bold in a colorful mermaid-style dress with printed cartoon characters. She brought the beach to the runway by wearing a blow-up floaty around her shoulders.