Egyptian movie star Ahmed Zaki has died
Egyptian movie star and sometime producer Ahmed Zaki, renowned for his screen portrayals of Egyptian presidents Gamal Abdul Nasser and Anwar Sadat, died at age 55 on March 27 in Cairo.
A major box office draw for more than two decades, he was reportedly born Ahmed Abdullrahman Zaki on Nov. 18, 1949, in Zaqazeeq (a.k.a. Zagazit), about 80 km north of Cairo. (According to some sources, Zaki was actually born to a poor family in a rural area in the Nile Delta.)
From Egypt’s downtrodden to powerful men
A graduate of the Cairo Higher Institute for Drama Studies, at the beginning of his career Zaki played characters representing the yearnings of young and poor rural Egyptians. But he would truly make his mark through his portrayals of powerful men in political films.
In that regard, Zaki was sort of a mix of Paul Muni, George Arliss, Charlton Heston, and the Ben Kingsley of Gandhi. Perhaps with a touch of Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson. If online sources are to be believed, Zaki was known for – quite literally – pulling no punches in several violent action scenes.
Besides his incarnations of Nasser and Sadat in, respectively, Mohamed Fadel’s Nasser 56 (1996), about the nationalization of the Suez Canal, and Mohammed Khan’s Days of Sadat / Ayam El-Sadat (2001), Zaki also starred in several other political films.
Most recently, he was seen in His Excellency the Minister / Ma’ali al wazir (2003), in which he played a guilt-ridden, corrupt government official.
Haitham Ahmed Zaki to finish ‘Halim’
Zaki’s son, Haitham Ahmed Zaki, is set to finish Halim, featuring the older Zaki as the late Egyptian singer Abdul Halim Hafez. The younger Zaki will play Halim Hafez in his early years.
Before being taken ill, Ahmed Zaki intended to portray current Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak on film.