In the middle of a promotional campaign for Moon Knight, director Mohamed Diab spoke to us about his inspirations and his desire to represent Egypt as realistically as possible.
In his tone and his universe, moon knight it’s very different than what Marvel has given us in the past. The series was conceived as an intimate exploration of the character’s psyche, which aims to approach mental health from a new prism.
A challenge for the house of ideas, but also and above all for the director Mohamed Diab, who directs the project behind the camera. Aided by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, the independent film maker spoke to us about his approach and inspirations during an interview.
Mohamed Diab, explains to us that this change of registry was accompanied by several challenges to be met. A balancing act to make several genres coexist, from thriller to action cinema through horror.
“It’s a big jump from my movies. However, making intimate stories is not exclusive to low-budget movies. For me, doing comedy, action and a bit of horror was something new. It brought its share of challenges, but I like it. If I do something, I have to do it uniquely. Definitely the biggest challenge was figuring out how to make drama, horror, action and adventure co-exist in one show, without them feeling like little pieces put together.”
A new mythology to develop
Mohamed Diab also had to build new visuals for the MCU, the one from Egyptian mythology and North Africa. For this Egyptian director, it was crucial to pay homage to all this culture, without distorting it and deviating from the representation that Western studies can make of it.
“Most of the time, when I see Egypt portrayed in American movies, I see this exotic vision that completely dehumanizes Egyptians. It was really important to show Egypt in a realistic way. 90% of the time you see Egypt on screen, it’s not filmed in Egypt. I was a bit like the police in Egypt (laughs)”
It was important to him to make this series a true love letter to his country, while maintaining the big-show aspect of this type of production. “Representation is important for people, but also for places. When you see the pyramids and then the desert, the pyramids are the heart of the city.”
He knew how to surround himself with experts in mythology to develop a true visual exploration of this vast universe. He tells us that he also immersed himself in the comics, to build the different episodes that he officiates. “I definitely inspired the comics, but not knowing anything about stories in print early on was an advantage. I had no weight on my shoulders, the only thing that mattered was telling a great story and going where I wanted to go.”
He explains in particular that he was able to develop an almost new character to play the antagonist. If Arthur Harrow really appeared in a brilliant role, the focus of the character in the series moon knight is completely new. A way to offer a nice counterweight to our protagonists, and to address issues as broad as mental health, but also spirituality and destiny.
The beginning of a new adventure?
Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead collaborated with Mohammed Diab to direct some episodes. According to Mohamed Diab, this association of their respective universes was evident from the beginning.
From now on, the two filmmakers will also act alone in the next season of Loki. For his part, Mohammed Diab has not yet been officially recruited by Marvel for a new project. This does not prevent him from hoping to get back behind the camera to continue the adventures of moon knight.
“I would love to do something new, Marvel is very secretive and it will depend on what happens next with Moon Knight. I don’t know what they will do with me, I hope I have done a good job. In any case, it has been the best experience of my life.”
Mohamed Diab also told us a few words about Gaspard Ulliel, who died last January after falling while skiing. The actor must appear in the series in the skin of a mysterious character.
“I can’t believe we’re talking about him in the past tense now. I met him in 2011, we were watching Bus 678 (film directed by Mohamed Diab editor’s note) and we had a conversation after the screening. We kept in touch and I wanted him for this role. He was really humble and down to earth. I know how legendary he is in France, but I always felt that he was someone who had everything that Hollywood wants. I told him after filming that fans and viewers would want to see it again for sure. But the only positive thing about this whole story is that he will be immortalized in his movies, he will always be with us”.