Morrocon-French Actor Saeed Taghmaoui. Image Credit: Ravindranath, Gulf News

Watching a seemingly random group of people, some armed with notebooks and digital recorders, firing off questions to an individual dressed casually in blue jeans and a white shirt, and then furiously scribbling the answers, probably seemed a bit strange.

But Saeed Taghmaoui, the casually dressed individual, took it all in stride.

The Moroccan-French actor has appeared in Hollywood blockbusters such as G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Traitor and The Kite Runner as well as the television series Lost as Caesar.

He alternated between joking with reporters and answering questions with a broad grin.

"You know Conan the Barbarian [the 1982 film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger]? I'm in the process of finalising details to star in a remake of it. Not Conan himself, because it would cost the studio a lot to pump me up, but about his best friend," he laughed, gesturing to his slim physique.

For an actor with numerous films under his belt from acting in both the French film industry and Hollywood, Taghmaoui was surprisingly down to earth when tabloid! met him at Emirates Palace recently.

"I think too many people... artists... after a while they forget their roots, which is wrong. That's why I always make sure to play meaningful Arab roles. Arab characters are always being written in a stereotypical way. But that is changing, slowly.

"I think [US President] Obama being elected had some part in that change. When I got a call from my agent telling me that I got the part [of Breaker] in GI Joe, I was so happy that my character was one of the good guys. I don't feel there are enough good Arab role models. Almost all of our heroes are imported, and they have white skin," the actor said.

Rich history

As for Taghmaoui's future projects, some are already in motion. Among them is a screenplay he had written based on his life experiences which is to be directed by a Moroccan director. He is also looking forward to giving a series of classes at a film academy in his home country.

"There are a lot of talented people in Morocco... if no one steps up to help them then we wouldn't be able to build up our talent. It's essential to put the foundation first and then build up to the roof," Taghmaoui said.

But for now, there is one project that he can't wait to start, especially since it's for something close to his heart.

"I'm planning on making an epic movie about Ibn Battuta [the legendary Moroccan traveller]. The reason I want to make this movie is that Arabs... we don't have action heroes. But we have some of the world's greatest philosophers, travellers... I want to highlight that. The cast and locations for the movie are going to be international. It's going to be filmed in English, to make it as accessible as possible.

"That shouldn't be a problem because films like Gladiator, which is set during the Roman Empire, was filmed in English.

"Hopefully, shooting will begin in April 2011. But if things go better than planned, then I don't see why we can't even start in September [2010]," Taghmaoui said. "I'm also talking to the government of Abu Dhabi for them to be a part of the movie."