It was great fun chatting to Alexander Siddig (also known as Siddig El-Fadil), who played Dr Bashir in the Star Trek Deep Space Nine series. Since that hugely successful series, Alexander went on to have roles in the Ridley Scott epic, Kingdom of Heaven, as well as Syriana, Clash of the Titans and Reign of Fire. More recently he has been starring in the TV series Da Vinci’s Demons as well as doing some narration work for the BBC’s “Wild Arabia”.
Has it surprised you at how popular Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has remained?
Yes, well, I think a lot of the series have second legs, a second life because a new generation sort of arrives at them and has a new, completely different attitude. With something as brilliant as Star Trek you’re guaranteed another audience, and the new audience has a better appreciation then the first, to be honest, because when it first came out it wasn’t very popular. And it’s become more popular since.
I was never a fan of the “Original” series till after I watched DS9 and Voyager.
Even the Next Generation to some extent is better then the original series. Actually, The Next Generation is probably my favourite. It’s certainly in my top ten TV shows of all time, it’s just brilliant TV.
How much of yourself did you put into that character (Dr Bashir), because they altered the script somewhat when you got the role?
It’s too exhausting not to put all yourself in it. You have to use “you” and work from there. It’s just day in day out for seven years, you just can’t pretend to be someone else for very long.
How was Kingdom of Heaven, one of my favourite films.
It was great fun, working with Ridley Scott, one of the gods of cinema, working on a massive budget in the desert, a thousand extras as cavalry. It was proper film making from the old school.
Is he (Ridley Scott) really demanding to work for?
He’s incredibly demanding. He’s a string of swear words if you don’t get it right!
And working in that heat in armour must have been horrific?
We were working in chainmail, in 35 degree heat, for 6 or 7 hours at a time. So people were fainting, it was for real. Yeah, in the sand as well, with the sand storms kicking up. I had my cornea scratched filming one scene, and you can’t stop, you had to keep going.
First time I watched that film, wasn’t keen on it, but every time I watch it, it just gets better.
Yeah, it’s a slow grower isn’t it! Because it’s a proper film. I loved the script. I saw the film but didn’t see the directors cut.
You attended, was it Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) or The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA)?
Wasn’t RSC, but LAMDA yes. It’s an acting school and I was there for three years and enjoyed it tremendously.
Do you find that British actors have something of an edge with RSCor LAMDA backgrounds?
No, not at all. I think American and British actors are just as good as each other. It’s just that it seems to go in trends. People find the British acting style or whatever, or the way we speak or do stuff fashionable one decade, and the next decade it’s all over and we start with a new Dustin Hoffman, or we find a new Warren Beatty. But then we go back to the Tom Courtenays. It’s just swings and roundabouts.
What for you has been your favourite role?
I think the probably most rewarding role was a film called, weirdly, “Un Homme Perdu”, which means “A Lost Man”. And I played in that, and it was a very weird, bleak, almost old fashioned kind of film where not much was said, not much happens, pure art. It gave me a real sense of freedom to be able to play something without having to keep going ba dum tssh, comedy gag, here’s another bit of nice acting. I didn’t have to do any acting, so it was very cool.
Thank you for your time.
Ah thank you, and hope to talk again soon!
A massive thank you to Alexander for his time and a big thank you to Gemma, Zoe, Jess, Kate, Delia and Kevin for their help during the event.