A ruthless villain, he is like Adil in the acclaimed Videoland series Mocro Mafia† And now? Now Walid Benmbarek is a sweetheart, an ‘ordinary’ car mechanic who wants to get married. About his other side in the romcom Moroccan Wedding (now in cinemas) we sat down at the popular Walid.
Actually, his name is no longer Walid when he goes out on the street. “Adíl, Adíl”, is what he mainly hears. In the meantime, he is also just ‘a frugal Dutchman’, because while we’re on the subject of marriage: he married his wife on Monday. Free and for nothing.
Sober happy guy
Walid Benmbarek (42) does not mind that shouting in the street, he sees it as a nice appreciation for his role and the top series Mocro Mafia† He turns out to be a sober, cheerful guy who walks into a bar of the Royal Theater Tuschinski in Amsterdam in a training jacket. How different it will be that night when he’s in a suit – black leather jacket with gold – at the big premiere of Moroccan Wedding may and must appear.
Marrying in Moroccan Wedding… or not
The bad guy out Mocro Mafia that series survived for four seasons. But he left the hard series for the romcom Moroccan Wedding by director Johan Nijenhuis. Walid Benmbarek threw himself into the role of the friendly Samir with great pleasure. The auto mechanic has a crush on Yasmine (Soumaya Ahouaoui, Subway spoke to her too) and she to him. Yasmine initially does not want to get married at all and mainly focuses on a career as a lawyer. The spark seems to fly, but then the lawyer still has to assist Samir if he is also suspected of car theft. In addition, a love rival is at stake: the charming and somewhat slippery plastic surgeon Ibrahim (Nabil Aoulad Ayad). Subway assessed Moroccan Wedding with 3.5 out of 5 stars. The film is a joy to watch and, due to the many Moroccan traditions, just a bit more than just a rom-com.
Not the type for a Moroccan Wedding
Was it a party for you, that Moroccan wedding?
Walid: “Huge. And Moroccans can really celebrate a wedding, right? Everything will look colorful then. It is nice to present that positively and with many recognizable things as a film. I think it’s great that we can show the Netherlands that Moroccans can also celebrate well.”
Tell us about your own wedding?
“I myself am not the type for a typical Moroccan wedding, but to experience it by the way. From a young age I have said I don’t want people at my wedding that I have no connection with. That’s what always happens at a Moroccan wedding, three hundred guests, two hundred of whom you don’t know. Parents often spend a lot of money on a marriage of their children, I didn’t want to do that to mine anyway.”
‘Keep that money to yourself’
Wasn’t your mother a little bit more into that than you? I’ve seen the movie…
“Haha, the mother and certainly mine is very important. Mothers are proud when their child gets married, that includes a big party. I said ‘all nice and nice, keep that money for yourself’.”
Dutchman that you are there!
“Yes man. I saw that getting married on Monday was free. We did that in 2011 at the town hall and we went out for dinner with the parents, brothers, sisters and supporters of my wife and me. My wife agreed at the time, but now she thinks very differently, haha. That’s why I promised her that when we’re married for 12.5 years, we’ll have a big party. Eighty man, not three hundred. At the time, we opted for a beautiful three-week honeymoon to French Polynesia. My wife agreed, but now says: if it was 2011 again, we would have done things differently. Every time she sees a movie with a wedding or a white dress somewhere, I hear that.” With a nice grin: „It is all the more painful that I am now in Moroccan Wedding play…”
Walid Benmbarek has his own business in addition to acting
Something very different. You are a celebrated actor, but did I hear Humberto say on the talk show that you have your own construction company?
“That comes from Johan Nijenhuis, but it is a finishing company. We take care of the finishing touch† Acting is really my passion, but in the past you were mainly typecast, because of my appearance you know it. Now it is a bit more diverse and colorful. It bothered me and I didn’t want to be dependent on it. I even stopped acting for a while and entered the finishing company. When my chance comes, it will come again, I thought. From the movie The Infiltrator I got the hang of it again and a lot followed. The great thing about having that company is that I can now make good choices. I don’t have to take every role and I don’t have to be in every construction project.”
‘Broad and bald? Then no doctor’
From the perspective of film and series makers, isn’t typecasting also a form of logic?
“Yes. I mean by the way about the Netherlands in general, it does not only apply to Moroccan actors, for example. However, it is also a form of being a little too easy. A man wide and bald cannot play doctor here. Then look at America. The biggest actors are muscular and broad, they do things differently there. The Dutch film world too often has blinders on. Why can’t Liza Sips, Pip Pellens (both also in Moroccan Wedding) and Barbara Sloesen not play in a drama? They stay in the rom-com corner, because their movies are viewed well commercially. It works, but I’m sorry. Fortunately, I see that a little change is coming.”
Laughing at Moroccan Wedding
Speaking of typical: in Moroccan Wedding, as Moroccan actors, it is best to poke fun at different traditions from your culture. Can the average Moroccan laugh about that?
“Yes, because there are so many recognizable things in it. And yes, when I was not yet married, my mother always asked when it would happen. What you see is what’s going on. Honor and social control are very important in Moroccan culture. A certain pride that you grew up with is in your blood. A divorce like you in Moroccan Wedding see, we don’t like it. You marry until death do us part. It’s a bit exaggerated in the movie. With a humorous wink. The Moroccan community will find it all very recognizable, laugh and say ‘yes, this is what happens’.”
How did you feel about being asked for such a completely different role?
“As an actor, I thought it was the most exciting film to do, it was something completely different. You know what you are strong at, but you also know what you think you can be strong at. I wanted to show the Netherlands and all film makers that I can’t just play that broad tough guy. Action and drama, I’m good at that too. I know that. But no one had tried me in a rom-com before. I hope the public sees that it is something that suits me too. That people go with it and no longer go out to Adil Mocro Mafia to look. And that she met me at the end of Moroccan Wedding call Samir.”
Do you think it’s cool that you are always spoken to about Adil on the street?
“Of course, recognition is ultimately what you do it for as an actor. That people are enthusiastic about something you have created. That they believe you as a character.”
What do you hope Moroccan Wedding brings?
“I hope a lot of people go there. Whether fans of Johan Nijenhuis films are immediately triggered by a Moroccan wedding and the Arab culture, I don’t know. But I very much hope so. That they come and take a look at Moroccan traditions and culture. However, I think it will be fine.”
‘The man of minor importance’
Is it fun for the men at a Moroccan wedding?
“A wedding is a woman’s celebration. Women are central and everything must be arranged to perfection. The man is subordinate. In fact, you’re all alone waiting for your wife all evening. If she just sits next to you, she has to put on a new dress again. She still has four that evening. You don’t actually see your wife, the husband is of secondary importance. When the wedding night comes, she’s all wrecked and you’re all done. So sleep, haha.”
Moroccan Wedding with Walid Benmbarek has been in cinemas since Thursday. Next fall, the actor can also be seen on Videoland. in the series Hockey Dads Walid is something completely different again, namely… a hockey veteran (“new to me, I really had to learn that because I play the star of the team”). By the way, don’t worry: also in the fifth season of Mocro Mafia Walid Benmbarek returns.
Soumaya shines in Moroccan Wedding: ‘Moroccan women can really party well’
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