Flipping The Script: Reimagining Beloved Arab Stars In Unlikely Roles

Throughout 2023, we were graced with a rich cocktail of Arab entertainment whether during the yearly Ramadan race or the bustling Eid season. A slew of stars were our favorite living room companions, from Mona Zaki’s A-star performance in “Taht El Wesaya” to Ahmed Fahmy’s chilling role in “Safah El Giza.” Along with the seasoned actors, many breakout stars also stole our hearts, including Badra, Lina Sofia Ben Hamman, and Jessica Hosam El Din in “Kamel El Adad.” Beyond these appearances, we want to change things up by seeing some of our all-time favorite Arab actors taking on completely unlikely roles.

A Villainous Ahmed Helmy

Cracking us up throughout the early 2000s is the comedic genius known as Ahmed Helmy. With his signature smile and black-framed glasses, he stole our hearts with his sweet down-to-earth characters in films like “Zaky Chan” where he played an unlikely bodyguard while also shocking us with his deep and philosophical characters in films like “Asif Aala El Izaag” (Sorry To Disturb) where he depicted an internal battle with schizophrenia. Since 2022, we barely got to see Helmy on screen except for the occasional interview on AB Talks with Anas Bukhash. Missing the beloved actor, we’d love to see him make a major comeback with a role unlike any of his before. For a bit of fun, he could tackle a villainous role like playing a serial killer (think Ahmed Fahmy in Safah El Giza) or even a drug lord.

A High-Class Snobby Version of Hind Sabry

We all know and love her as the bubbly down-to-earth actress who emits positive energy and strength. The Tunisian Egyptian star Hind Sabry has won the hearts of the Pan-Arab region and is so successful that she is the youngest-ever actress to walk away with the Faten Hamama award. She played various roles, from marriage-obsessed Ola in “Awza Atgawiz” (I Want To Get Married) to a disheartened Tunisian mother of daughters who joins Isis in “Four Daughters.” Knowing her acting breadth, we’d love to see the actress shining in different shoes by playing the role of a rich aristocratic diva who spends most of her time in Gezira Sporting Club.

A Historical Adel Emam

Unlike other actors across Egypt’s cinematic world, Adel Emam stands tall as one of the top to grace the screen. He’s the crown prince of Egyptian pop culture, a comic and dramatic actor who appeared in hundreds of movies and many TV series over a career that spans more than 60 years. He was truly different as he always made sure to address political and social issues in his films like Toyour El-Zalam (1995) and El-Sefara Fi El-Omara (2005). In 2023, Emam didn’t grace us with his presence on the screen, thus we missed out on an entire year of the living legend’s exceptional cinematic prowess. We definitely want him to make any kind of comeback, especially taking on the role of a significant figure from history like an Ottoman ruler or Egyptian president.

A Thrilleresque Saba Mubarak

Prominent Jordanian actress Saba Mubarak has truly made a name for herself in the entertainment world by winning many titles and awards after starring in more than 60 roles, juggling between cinema, TV, and theater. She’s known to excel in taking on series roles that present issues faced by Arab women from both the historical and contemporary realms like how she tackled the issue of marriage pressures when turning 30 in the Arab world in her role in “Two Girls From Egypt.” To shake things up for the actress, we’d love to see her use her talent for personifying complex roles to play a character in a film where the genre is a psychological thriller. We think she’ll definitely ace that kind of role and bring something fresh to the 2024 movie and TV show lineup.


A Lovey Dovey Basel Khayat

Known for his brooding demeanor and heavy roles, Syrian heart-throb Basel Khayat has been making a big name for himself in Egyptian cinema and television. He plays characters that we love to hate, including his manipulative, narcissistic role in “Al Thaman” in 2023. Now imagine if we take the same actor and pluck him headfirst into a sappy romantic comedy, the kind made popular by the likes of Ahmed Helmy — that’ll surely get some heads turning.

A Sneaky Razane Jammal

Elegant, graceful, and picture-perfect are all ways to describe Lebanese actress Razane Jammal, who not only wowed audiences in the region but also garnered global acclaim through her international flicks. Her biggest hits include her Marvel flick “Sandman” as well as her heart-wrenching role in “Al Thaman” alongside Basel Khayat. In many of her roles, she’s on the good side of things, which is why it’d be exciting to see her playing a scandalous bad role like, for example, a young cougar marrying a rich old billionaire for his money.


Breaking out of their shells and taking on these roles can be exciting for both the audience as well as the actors themselves, as it’ll show them what other characters they can take on in the entertainment world.

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