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Tatler gets acquainted with Egyptian-Palestinian actress May Calamawy ahead of the premiere of Disney+'s Moon Knight

Moon Knight is an upcoming American television miniseries created by Jeremy Slater for the streaming service Disney+, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. It's intended to be the sixth television series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) produced by Marvel Studios, sharing continuity with the films of the franchise. Slater serves as head writer with Mohamed Diab leading the directing team.

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The story follows Steven Grant, a mild-mannered man who lives a mundane life, plagued by blackouts and mysterious memories of a life somehow separate from his own. After one fateful encounter, Grant discovers that he has dissociative identity disorder (DID) and shares a body with Marc Spector—a former mercenary and the ruthless avatar of Khonshu, the Egyptian god of the moon and vengeance.

With their enemies converging upon them, Grant must learn how to adapt to this revelation and work with Spector. With other godly motives at play, the two must navigate their complex identities amid a deadly battle played out among the powerful gods of Egypt.

Golden Globe-winner Oscar Isaac stars as Marc Spector/Steven Grant/Moon Knight while Ethan Hawke and May Calamawy play Arthur Harrow and Layla El-Faouly respectively. Ahead of its release on Disney+ Hotstar, Tatler sat down with 36-year-old Egyptian-Palestinian beauty May Calamawy on her role in the series.

Can you describe your immediate reaction when you heard that you got the part and also, tell us how you prepared to take on this role?

I screamed and cried when my manager told me. I was so excited! I couldn't really tell a lot of people about it so I just had to live with that, you know? In terms of preparation, I started to have many talks with Mohamed Diab and his wife Sarah, and then I started getting into scripts and giving my opinions. I realised very early on that it was going to be a very collaborative experience. When I got there, I spent two months training before doing any filming, so that's about three hours a day with the stunt team and my personal trainer, really working on the physical aspects of it. That helped me discover who Layla was. Then we moved into like... we spent six hours of every episode, rehearsing, reading, finding any loopholes which was probably one of the best things we did because that made it easier than just shooting and going, "Wait a minute, this doesn't make any sense", all of that was great for the preparation.

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In Moon Knight, you’re a mysterious new character that doesn’t exist in the Marvel comics. So, without giving away any spoilers, what can you tell us about your character?

Layla is Egyptian and she has known Marc from the past and now she's very confused when she meets Steven. She's a strong woman, intellectually and physically, but she's also vulnerable and it was fun to play that whole side of her.

Which character’s arc are you most excited to see develop throughout the series?

Steven's! I love Steven's character.

On working with Oscar and Ethan, do you have any funny behind-the-scenes anecdotes to share?

We were very silly together, always (laughs). We'd play in between takes, we'd go play ping pong, or after work, we'd get together and play poker. We all got very close and it was really nice. I don't remember specific things, I just know that we were very silly together and we'd always have fun.

What was the most challenging for you throughout the production of Moon Knight?

Really learning to trust myself and speaking up. Trust what I feel about what can work for a scene because otherwise, I'd be like, "Oh, I don't know, I'm not going to say it. I'm not going to suggest that." Towards the end, I just became freer about making suggestions. That was fun.

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What are your thoughts on Moon Knight being one of the rare times that Marvel focused quite prominently on the topic of mental health?

I think it's really great that they're bringing DID to the screen because it's such a sensitive subject. Sometimes, it's easier to tackle these subjects when you know, through a different lens of fantasy the way Moon Knight is doing it. It makes it interesting and makes it a bit lighter but at the same time, it's still really heavy when you see what Steven and Marc are going through in their internal struggle. Mental health is a really big part of the conversation that everyone is having and this is just going to push it even more.

How did you feel knowing that these characters will have the potential of crossing over into MCU films?

Wow, I mean... I can already see Moon Knight all over in the films!

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