Cairo: Accomplished Egyptian actor Ezzat El Alaili, who died Friday aged 86 in Cairo, has established renown in various roles etched in the minds of film fans across the Arab world.
Born in the Cairo district of Bab Al Sharia in September 1934, Al Alaili graduated from Egypt’s High Institute for Theatrical Arts in 1960.
He launched an acting career in the 1960s, making his debut in the film melodrama “A Message from An Unknown Woman) in 1962.
He has since performed in about 200 works including films, TV serials and stage shows. His most acclaimed roles include films of “Al Ard” (The Land) in 1970 as a rebel peasant; “The Top People” in 1981 as a policeman; “Citizen Masri” in 1991 as an oppressed peasant opposite internationally renowned actor Omar Sharif; and as a Navy officer in the war epic “The Way to Eilat” in 1993.
Al Alaili performed in 10 films out of the Egyptian cinema’s best 100 productions including “The Palace Walk” based on Egyptian Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz’s famous “Cairo Trilogy”; “The Land”; “Choice” and “Alexandria Why” – the latter three directed by renowned filmmaker Youcef Chahin.
His other classic credentials also include “The Water Carrier Has died” in 1977 and “The Collar and the Bracelet” in 1986.
Recalling his role in “The Land”, he said the film was shown at the Canne Festival.
“At Cannes, I met a French critic who told me he had watched the film and that he foresees a big future for me. But he advised me to be responsible for any word I say,” Al Alaili said at a seminar held at the 2016 Sharjah Book Fair.
An established stage performer, Al Alaili also starred in several popular theatrical shows including the 1974 musical “Tamr Hena” co-starring late Algerian singer Warda; and the comedy “Welcome Beys” in 1997. His last work was “A Family Record” a TV serial shown in 2019.
Al Alaili’s last public appearance was last month as a guest on the popular TV show “Her Excellency”.
Early in his life, Al Alaili worked on television preparing a programme titled “Journey of the Day” touring Egypt’s provinces. He learnt that then Egyptian president Gamal Abdul Nasser was watching the weekly show. “This made me feel worried and conceited at the same time,” he once said.
During his long career, he won several prizes including a lifetime achievement award from the 2015 Dubai International Film Festival. Egyptian Culture Minister Inas Abdul Diam eulogised Al Alaili, describing him as an acting legend.
“He has made immortal glory in the history of Egyptian art in his capacity as an acting legend,” she said in a statement Friday. “He succeeded in representing characters that touched the people,” the minister added.