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Interview: Ashraf Barhom

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ASHRAF BARHOM as Saudi Colonel Al Ghazi in The Kingdom

The Kingdom arrive in theaters, September 28 and Stax at IGN interviews Ashraf Barhom, who plays Saudi Colonel Al Ghazi in the blockbuster thriller.

IGN: How did the filmmakers think of you for this role?

Ashraf Barhom: It was from Paradise Now. I made this movie and they saw it and liked it very much and we [were] contacted after that movie.

IGN: The Kingdom also reunites you with Ali Suliman, who starred with you in Paradise Now and The Syrian Bride. How was it working with him again?

Barhom: It was very good to have Ali next to me. I believe for him it was also good to share this experience together.

IGN: Can you talk about what it is that Fleury and Al-Ghazi come to recognize in each other that helps them overcome their differences?

Barhom: The idea that both of these characters have a mission of caring for the security of their country, so this point in the end made them [have] an interest in working together. The differences of the two cultures and of who decides things makes a conflict, a fight between them, but by the end they see the idea is more important that they need to find how they communicate and how they work together to solve a problem or an issue.

IGN: Jamie Foxx comes from a comedy background and is familiar with improvisation. Were you free to improvise with your character?

Barhom: Yeah, very much. Working on the set was very free. We had the opportunity with Pete [Berg] and his way of working to change the script and situations. Sometimes we made a new scene. We wrote new ideas. It was very healthy to work in this way. To make the movie more real and honest and close to reality.

IGN: Were you allowed to suggest things to allow for a more balanced or authentic depiction of Arab characters?

Barhom: You know what, the script was already good. The basics were already balanced, and during the working Pete saw what he’d written and he asked me and Ali — we changed things to make it more real, more close to reality.

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