***May contain spoilers if you haven’t seen A Day to Die***
Egyptian multi award winner Mohamed Karim (A Score To Settle) joins Bruce Willis, Frank Grillo and Kevin Dillon in A Day to Die.
A Day to Die revolves around an ex-military ops officer Conner Connolly (Dillon) has one day to pay $2 million in reparations to a local gang leader in order to save his kidnapped wife. With her life on the line, Conner must recruit his old crew, led by Brice Mason (Grillo), to pull off a series of dangerous heists to repay the money he owes and settle a score with the city’s corrupt police chief (Willis). In a race against time, the crew must rely on their tactical training and brotherhood to save themselves and those who matter most.
Mohamed is Detective Reynolds, a committed and righteous law-enforcer who isn’t afraid to do the right thing or see justice served, even if it places him in the line of danger. Until he brings the head of corruption down and bring him to justice. The two most important things in Reynolds life are work and his daughter.
The role of Reynolds in Wes Miller’s A Day to Die is the second film in a row that Karim has had the opportunity to play such an interesting role, and one that isn’t a stereotypical Middle Eastern role, in a Hollywood film. After his successful films and series he greatly achieved in Egypt and the Middle East.
Check out my interview with Mohamed!
How did you become a part of the movie?
Mohamed: Just like anybody else, I auditioned with Wes. After that, Andrew, the producer, asked me to send in some of my materials and my previous work. I think actually my previous film, A Score To Settle, helped a lot. I was opposite Nicolas Cage and Benjamin Bratt. So yeah, I mean, thank God it worked out.
What drew you to Reynolds?
Mohamed: A lot, actually. Just the fact that I’m doing an unstereotyped role in Hollywood and he’s one of the leads and I play a detective opposite Bruce Willis. I think all that kind of adds up especially when you’re talking about a detective Reynolds. He represents law, he wants to implement law and he doesn’t fear anything, he just wants to do the right thing. It doesn’t matter their struggle internally in the police department or it’s outside, he doesn’t care as long as he’s doing the right thing. He wants to make sure that everybody follows the rules and laws and even if it’s gonna affect his job or affect him personally, that’s what makes it different because of that twist that happens. At the beginning, you don’t know what Reynolds is, but later on, you find out that he is doing the right thing. He’s playing the good guy in a film. He has this gut feeling that something’s off, something’s wrong, with the fact that every time there is somebody under his custody, they either get killed or disappear or are kidnapped. He goes deep into it until he is able to prove his point and bring down the big boss, the bad guy.
Can you just elaborate by what you mean by Reynolds not being a stereotypical role?
Mohamed: I’m originally from Egypt and I speak English, Arabic and French and usually the top roles that I always get are sort of like an Arab role, Middle Eastern role, Arabic speaking sort of roles, you know, these type of roles, and most of the time they’re not good roles. I’m really glad that since I started working in Hollywood, none of that has happened. I am always looking for something that is different, that just proves that you’re a good actor and you’re right for the role. It doesn’t have to be based on if you’re originally from here. So in A Score To Settle, there was me and Nick Cage and Ben Bratt and it had nothing to do with where we were originally from. It was just straight up action. And here, I’m playing detective and I think so far, that’s my greatest achievement- that I haven’t been doing those stereotypical roles.
I think lately, there’s been a little bit of change. You can feel it in Hollywood, a little bit, not too much, but I do see a lot of diversity happening. Like the fact that in 2019, I’m originally from Egypt and that was sort of like my breakthrough into Hollywood. Rami Malek won an Oscar and we’re really proud of him. Ramy Youssef won a Golden Globe, he’s originally from Egypt, too. And Mena Massoud played Aladdin. And there’s me playing in A Score To Settle. I think that was a really good sign for me that says, ‘you’re on the right track.’
Did you have to do anything special to prepare for this role?
Mohamed: I had to work out a lot and I had to make sure that I know what I’m doing when it comes to the gun and the shooting and the chasing scenes and all that. I think the production did really well on that as well because we had like ex-military people taking care of and supervising things like the guns and machine guns and all that happened, and all the explosions and the blowing up the cars and all that. So I got to sit with them and ask all my questions because at the end of the day,you need to make sure that if a real cop is watching or whatever your character is, a lawyer or a doctor, whatever, you want to be sure that people really believe in what you’re doing. The last thing you want to do is like if somebody like a real cop is watching and you’re not doing what you’re supposed to and I really hate that, personally. I kind of went through this already because I’m originally a medical doctor and watching a lot of series and a lot of films, you see doctors not doing the right thing. It kind of pisses me off. So that is sort of like a pressure for me that I have to make sure that what I’m doing is right.
What was it like working with Bruce Willis?
Mohamed: Oh amazing! Just the fact that I grew up watching the Die Hard movies and watching all these movies and now I’m acting opposite him, I think I’m the luckiest person in film. All of my scenes are with Bruce. I think that was amazing and I’m really excited for that. I am really excited for all the feedback that I’m getting. We have all these action scenes and I was prepping for it with him and getting the chance to talk and discuss and brainstorm with him. I just learned a lot from a legend. He’s just like the true word for a star, being humble and down to earth all the time and really nice for everybody.
What was it like working with Wes Miller, the director?
Mohamed: I have worked on a lot of movies, but Wes got that special, I’ll call it a gift. He’s so calm and he’s so easy with everything and that kind of reflects back on everybody. It’s super cool. So, it doesn’t matter what’s happening- if we’re blocking down the whole downtown, just like we did in Mississippi. Jackson, or blowing up cars and explosions and all that, it’s just super cool. He’s got everything under control. And that kind of gave me the trust to be cool as well and just focus on what you’re doing. I think he did a great job. I really thank him for the opportunity as well. I had an amazing time working with Wes, and I pretty much had to play with a lot of things with him and I really liked that because he’s that kind of director. Even though we did some rehearsals, on set it’s different. Sometimes he can come up with something pretty cool and you have to go with it and you just play with that and I really liked that. He trusts his actors and I just had a lot of fun working with him and I really look forward to working with him again.
Do you have any memories that stand out from filming?
Mohamed: A lot. I’m trying to choose which one, so it’s not gonna be like a spoiler or anything, but mostly the in between scenes with me and Bruce talking a little bit. I learned a lot from him, actually. The fact that he’s just talking as Bruce and then, all sudden, they’re ready for the next scene. I was amazed with the quick, freaking turn that he can just jump into his character right away like that. It didn’t matter how long he’d been talking, he was ready to go. There were a lot of funny moments and that set was really awesome. It’s one of the best sets I’ve ever been to. Also the action scenes, you know, one of the best scenes that I had, during the robbery, during the finale. I think that was pretty intense and pretty cool.
Is there anything that you hope the audience takes away from watching the movie?
Mohamed: Actually, yeah. So for instance, as my character, Reynolds, and some lawmaker are speaking, I have doubts that some of my supervisors and my chief of police, that there’s something wrong with them and nobody ever believes me. And I had to pursue that, I had to follow my gut feeling and I had to fight for what I believe in until I prove my point. And I was right against all that and everybody that didn’t believe me. I think that’s a really good message that if you really believe in something, whether it’s what you’re doing, yourself, your work, something, I think you need to pursue that and you need to be after your dreams and just follow what you really feel because nobody will ever believe you until you’re proven. I think that’s a really good message that you need to pursue and to follow your thoughts and dreams. It doesn’t matter how long it’s gonna take, but at the end of the day, if there’s a chance that you will make it, that’s a great success. Also, something that has nothing to do with my character, maybe a little, but it doesn’t matter if a character is the villain, each one of us has a bright side. Nobody is this perfect and nobody is 100% a villain.
Is there anything that we didn’t touch on that you’d like to add about A Day to Die?
Mohamed: I’m just really excited for the film. I really hope people will like it. It’s my second feature film in Hollywood and I look forward to doing more and more films. And they don’t particularly have to be action films. I’m also really excited for the feature film I’m working on right now. It’s untitled but it’s my story, it’s in development right now with Dark Castle. It’s a thriller, and it’s going to be shot between the US and Egypt by an Egyptologist. It’s pretty cool that I get to do a film with a big production company like Dark Castle, and that it’s my story. I’m really happy and excited for this separate journey.