Egyptian doctor-turned-actor Mohamed Karim is set to make his Hollywood debut, as he will star alongside famous actor Nicolas Cage in an upcoming thriller.
According to Hollywood.com, he will become the first Egyptian man leading in Hollywood since the late Omar Sharif.
But surprise, surprise... Karim will be playing a criminal, as per the Hollywood norm when it comes to Arab and Muslim performers.
The Egyptian star and former host of the Arab world's The Voice is acting in the film A Score to Settle, in which Cage plays a hitman seeking revenge against his former mob bosses after 22 years of wrongful imprisonment.
Meanwhile, Karim has been cast as Jimmy the Dragon, a fearless killer and one of the hitman's former bosses.
Speaking to Western media, Karim expressed his excitement about performing with Cage and talked about his efforts to portray his character in the best way.
"I did all my own stunt scenes… I just felt I wanted to do it. I felt like I wanted to have the whole experience," he told the World Entertainment News Network.
When asked about the late Omar Sharif, Karim said he had befriended the legendary Egyptian actor prior to his death and the latter offered him some guidance.
"I told him I wanted to do characters away from stereotypes [...] He told me what I should do and what I shouldn't do from his own experience," said Karim, adding that he hopes "to build bridges between Hollywood and the Middle East".
Who is Mohamed Karim?
The 38-year-old graduated from high school in Los Angeles, California, and went on to study medicine in Cairo.
After becoming a doctor, he pursued his passion for acting and partook in several Egyptian films and TV series. Eyeing international screens, he later returned to Los Angeles to study acting in Hollywood.
Apart from local productions, Karim has performed in several American and European films.
He has thus earned numerous regional and international awards, including the Best Actor awards from the Monaco International Film Festival and the Arab Film Festival in California.
Misrepresentation of Arabs in Hollywood
While starring in a major Hollywood production is definitely a remarkable feat for the Arab actor, we can't help but have some reservations regarding his role.
The Hollywood film industry has long been plagued by overt stereotyping and lack of balanced representation of Arabs and Muslims, almost exclusively featuring them as villains.
So, we would have much rather liked to see Karim play a hero rather than a "killer with no fear of death", as we can definitely do without more productions that inadvertently cause people to lump us into pools of murderous thugs.