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Egyptian Actor Mohamed Karim Shares on Successfully Making it to Hollywood


Mohamed Karim. Supplied

Mohamed Karim is an Egyptian physician who worked hard to break into Hollywood with much success. “Since I was younger, I knew that I would go in both ways: medicine and art”, he said about his beginnings. “I was born in a family of physicians, used to accompany my parents to clinics and listen to their conversations on medicine. So naturally, I loved it and decided to return back to Egypt after completing high school in Los Angeles to specialize in thinness and obesity without any pressure from my family. But art was my passion since childhood. I didn’t miss watching any movies during my stay in Los Angeles. I used to imitate every character of the old plays. My father always took me to watch the latest movies which grew my love of acting.”

Karim was supported by his family after deciding to study medicine without giving up his love of acting. “I was surprised by my father’s reaction. He gave me endless support to the point of writing down all the advertisements he sees of casting companies,” he noted. “I attended acting classes, visited studios and worked hard to develop my abilities. I realized that making my way into acting as a young man from a family far from art would be a great challenge and requires tremendous efforts.”

Karim made his film debut in Youm Al Karama, during his fourth year at medical college. He soon appeared in TV series and landed leading roles in some of them. But that didn’t fulfill his dreams. “Acting in Egypt was only the beginning. My goal since I stood in front of the camera was clear: breaking out in Hollywood.” Karim differs from his fellow actors. He doesn’t wait to see the public reaction to any of his roles. Instead, he travels to Los Angeles to pursue his studies and going to acting studios to learn and sharpen his talent. “I faced many challenges, but never thought of anything but attaining my goals and what I dreamt for, no matter what it is, and I never doubted my ability to make it,” he asserted. “I was thinking about the Egyptian actor Omar Sharif. He was such a wonderful and elegant man and was exceptionally respected in Hollywood. I had great ambitions. I wanted my name to be established in world cinema history and have an identity that would get the same recognition as Omar Sharif.”

“I played in 10 movies and more than 20 series”, he commented on his choices. “I was keen to play roles that I would be proud of when I show them to international directors, even hosting the talent show The Voice was a step that I thought would help me in my path toward global fame. The production was huge and different than any other talent shows.”

Mohammed Karim, Nicholas Cage, Score To Settle

Mohamed Karim and Nicholas Cage in A Score To Settle. Courtesy of Jessandy Studios

Karim received many awards, most notably the Best Actor awards at Monaco International Film Festival, the Alexandria International Film Festival, and the Egyptian Oscar, but his well deserved grand prize that he gained after many efforts is when he landed a role alongside Nicolas Cage in A Score to Settle. “People may think Hollywood’s doors are open to any famous actor who has long cinema history in his home country, but things are much difficult than some might think. I went to over 2000 auditions that required a lot of preparations. My car became my home as I moved from a studio to another for auditions, so I wouldn’t miss any chance,” he said. “The most important thing for me was to make a satisfactory performance, so I didn’t lose any time in knowing the names of actors who are competing with me in a particular role. I was lucky enough to have some days off before the audition of A Score to Settle. I did some training which helped me to embody the character and prepared me well for the role. The character was complex and feared nothing even death. I can’t deny that starring alongside an Oscar-winning actor may cause fears but it’s a motivation rather than a scary thing. Everyone, including Cage, has realized that I’m an actor who deserves to play better roles than the usual ones offered to Arab actors.” Commenting on his character, he said, “I got the role and played an unusual and untraditional character who is not an Arab. Jimmy the Dragon is a complicated and weird guy who doesn’t fear death. He has tattoos of dragons all over his body. I was keen not to play a role that would have a negative impact on Arab youth because I believed that viewers have come to realize the difference between reality and acting. Now, after I have been able to get rid of Jimmy the Dragon with the help of some instructors and after having some rest, I’m really looking forward to seeing viewers’ reactions. Before screening, I didn’t get the chance to watch the movie. I even didn’t know the number of scenes of this character which is divided into two phases: Young Jimmy the Dragon and Jimmy after being released from prison, more than 15 years later.”

Mohammed Karim, Nicholas Cage, Score To Settle

Mohamed Karim and Nicholas Cage in A Score To Settle. Courtesy of Jessandy Studios

The Egyptian actor is proud to play alongside Cage – who praised him and asserted that he did a fantastic job in this movie – in his first steps in Hollywood. He became a household name along with other Egyptian actors such as Rami Malek, Mena Massoud, and comedian Ramy Youssef. Talking about Egyptian actors, he said, “I’m very proud of them and happy with their achievements, but I differ from them. They were born and raised in the West while I came from an Egyptian society that put me under scrutiny and criticism fearing that I would do something that will have negative impact on western perceptions of us.” He continued, “because I was born and raised in Egypt, I always consider our customs and traditions in the Arab world and the Middle East when I choose my roles in Hollywood. I refuse to play any role that might offend Arabs such as the stereotypical roles of terrorists and extremists.” About his future plans, Karim said, “I’m trying now to establish my name in Hollywood by playing alongside big names to enhance my career. I believe my role in A Score to Settle was a strong beginning. I’m working on other international projects and I hope they would be a step forward that would enable me to express my opinions on love and bullying.” On the lessons he wishes to share with the youth, he said, “All people dream but the important thing is to pursue your dreams which require avoiding negativity, not giving up, and not worrying about the achievements of others.”

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