Give us a little bit of your family history:
I was born in Paris to a Franco-British mother and Tunisian father. Having been raised in France, I speak multiple languages and am a third culture kid. I studied philosophy at The Sorbonne before shifting my focus to acting.
How did you end up attending the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA)?
When I had my final audition for LAMDA I could barely speak English. During the interview I answered every question with “it depends,” because I had no idea what they were asking me! Either it was phenomenal acting (with me pretending to be fluent in English), or they took me for a deep, artistic individual.
While at LAMDA, I trained as hard as humanly possible to correct my French accent. I’m proud to say that now cab drivers assume I’m from London.
What attracts you to a script?
The first thing I look for is a good story. I’m always attracted to roles in a very instinctive way, after having read the part, I know relatively quickly whether it’s something I want to do or not.
How do you prepare for a role?
I just pretend to be whoever I’m asked.
What do you consider your career-defining performance?
Playing Richard III on stage was a special experience, as theatre has always been my passion. But I like to believe that I’ve yet to have my ‘career-defining performance’!
What has acting taught you?
Acting has been my life for as long as I can remember. It has taught me to remember that at some point in time (from anywhere in the world), someone will spend $10 of their hard earned cash to come and watch my film, or pay the £3 to rent an episode on their TV.
I wholeheartedly believe that I (along with all industry professionals) have a major responsibility because of this; it’s our job to always produce the best work possible.
One of your passions is painting. At what age did you discover your love for art?
I grew up with my beautifully mad and artistic uncle. He lived in a fantasy world and taught me the importance of imagination from an early age. He cultivated my love for painting and remained my closest friend until he passed away when I was a teenager.
What materials do you use to create your drawings and paintings, and what’s your usual method?
Depending on the piece I switch between charcoal, ink, acrylic and oil. I wish I had a more organised ‘method’ but unfortunately, as all of my family and friends can tell you, my entire house (inside and out) and clothes are always covered in paint. I tend to splatter and throw materials around, usually working relatively quickly and never dwelling on any one piece.
You’re represented by Lahd Gallery internationally for your artwork. How did this happen?
Through Lahd’s international network and expertise they’ve been a pioneer for MENASA (Middle East, North Africa and South Asia) contemporary art. My Tunisian roots gave me an immediate sense of belonging with the Lahd family. Consequently Lahd has taken on eleven of my pieces exclusively.
What are the most striking differences between being a creative in London vs Paris vs the US?
Paris was my first lover, that you can never forget. London is the homely partner that treats you well, but one you can’t help cheating on. NYC is the lover that treats you poorly but fucks you good. Addictively, you end up going back for more. I’m intimately and deeply connected to the three, as I’ve been marked by each of them at various points in my life.
What are your ambitions in your creative life?
Acting-wise, to have artistic freedom within my work. Having the power to choose roles purely because I believe in them, rather than for money or publicity reasons.
And in the art world—having the ability to create bigger and better pieces. Producing new art forms and working with different materials.
What’s your secret to balancing your various current projects?
What makes you happy?
My wife. Pork Chop, our French bulldog.
What upcoming projects do you have that audiences can look forward to?
On the acting front, I’ve been filming for the television series ‘Houdini and Doyle,’ a new ITV and Fox period drama.
In the art world, my exhibition ‘First Impression’ is at the Hoxton Hotel in Shoreditch until January 2016. I’m in the midst of two upcoming exhibitions; my next is taking place in Athens.
What’s your motto?
My family motto: “Ne tentes aut perficie”. Alternatively: “Don’t attempt anything that you can’t lead to perfection”. It was pretty daunting at first but I’ve grown to accept and admire it as I’ve aged.