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The Palestinian actor Ali Suliman. Valery Hache / AFP
The Palestinian actor Ali Suliman. Valery Hache / AFP

Ali Suliman is on the busy side of the acting business

From becoming one of the region's most prolific - and award-winning - leading actors, to working with the likes of Kanye West and Mark Wahlberg, Ali Suliman has had more than just a busy year.

If there's one word to describe the past six months for Ali Suliman, it's busy. "I haven't rested since July," says the Palestinian actor, who has emerged in recent years as one of the most prolific leading men in Arabic cinema and is now starting to make a sizeable impact in Hollywood, much to the detriment of his spare time.

"First I was in Belgium, Belgium to San Sebastian, San Sebastian back to Belgium and then I come home for two days, then I fly to America for two months shooting, come back, three days, to Marrakech for shooting, come back, then two days to Dubai."

As it turns out, the film Suliman was promoting at the Dubai International Film Festival in Dubai - Ziad Doueiri's The Attack, in which he plays a top-ranking Tel Aviv surgeon whose wife becomes a suicide bomber - was the reason he couldn't attend Dubai's 2011 festival, where he won Best Actor for The Last Friday.

And true to form, when The Last Friday - a gently comical drama that saw Suliman play a downbeat Amman taxi driver - won the actor another award, this time at the Carthage International Film Festival in November, he was shooting another film in Los Angeles. "They phoned me to tell me I'd won," he laughs.

The film in question, Lone Survivor, could be among Suliman's biggest to date when it comes out later this year. Based on the real-life account of a failed Navy SEAL operation in 2005 against the Taliban, it stars Mark Wahlberg in the lead and was a chance for Suliman to reunite with Peter Berg, who directed him in 2007's The Kingdom.

"For me, it's a real pleasure to work with him again, and also to work with and meet Wahlberg," he says. "He's really down to earth, and a good partner."

Then there was Cruel Summer, Kanye West's Doha-shot musical short which premiered at Cannes last year and in which Suliman played a sheikh. "I really loved his vision," he says of West. "He's a real artist."

Rubbing shoulders with hip-hop stars and Hollywood elite and having his phone constantly buzzing with news of more awards may be all well and good, but for Suliman, his next move involves a break.

"My next travel is for a month to London for a vacation with my wife."


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