“making intimate stories is not exclusive to low-budget films”

“making intimate stories is not exclusive to low-budget films”

In the middle of a promotional campaign for Moon Knight, director Mohamed Diab told us about his inspirations and his desire to represent Egypt in the most realistic way possible.

In its tone and its universe, Moon Knight is very different from what Marvel has given us in the past. The series was conceived as an intimate exploration of the character’s psyche, which intends 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. Helped by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, the one who comes from independent cinema told us about his approach and his inspirations during an interview.

Mohamed Diab, explains to us that this change of register was accompanied by several challenges to be met. A balancing act to make several genres coexist, from thriller to action film through horror.

“It’s a big leap from my films. However, making intimate stories is not exclusive to low-budget films. For me, doing comedy, action and a bit of horror was new. It brought its share of challenges, but I like it. If I do something, I have to do it uniquely. The biggest challenge was definitely figuring out how to make drama, horror, action and adventure coexist in a single series, without it feeling like little pieces put together.”

A new mythology to develop

Mohamed Diab also had to build new imagery for the MCU, that of Egyptian mythology and North Africa. For this Egyptian director, it was crucial to pay homage to this whole culture, without distorting it and deviating from the representation that Western studios can make of it.

“Most of the time when I see Egypt depicted 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 times you see Egypt on screen, it’s not filmed in Egypt. I was a bit like the police of Egypt (laughs)”

It was important for him to transform this series into a true love letter to his country, while maintaining the big show aspect of this kind 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 was able to surround himself with experts in mythology to develop a real visual exploration of this vast universe. He tells us that he also dipped into comics, to build the different episodes on which he officiates. “I definitely inspired the comics, but not knowing anything about print stories at the start was a plus. I had no weight on my shoulders, the only thing that mattered was telling a great story and going where I wanted to go.”

mohamed diab moon knight
Credits: Disney+

He explains in particular that he was able to develop an almost new character to play the antagonist. If Arthur Harrow did indeed appear on glossy paper, the character’s approach in the series Moon Knight is completely new. A way to offer a nice counterweight to our main characters, and to address themes as broad as mental health, but also spirituality and destiny.

The start 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 obvious from the start.

From now on, the two filmmakers will also operate solo on 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 return behind the camera to continue the adventures of Moon Knight.

“I would love to do something new, Marvel is very secretive and it’s going to depend on what happens next with Moon Knight. I don’t know what they’ll do with me, I hope I did a good job. In any case, it was the best experience of my life”.

Mohamed Diab also told us a few words about Gaspard Ulliel, who died last January after a fall from skiing. The actor must appear in the series in the skin of a mysterious character.

“I can’t believe we talk 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 stayed in touch and I wanted him for this role. He was really humble and down to earth. I know how much of a legend he is in France, but I always felt he was someone who had everything Hollywood wants. I told him after filming that fans and viewers would want to see him again, for sure. But the only positive thing in this whole story is that he will be immortalized in his films, he will always be with us”.

Discover Moon Knight on Disney+

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