British-Egyptian actor Khalid Abdalla. File/AFP
Gulf Today Report
Khalid Abdalla, the Egyptian-British actor who portrays Dodi Fayed in season five of Netflix’s royal drama 'The Crown,' dispels the misconceptions that surround the son of billionaire Mohammed Al-Fayed, who was killed with Princess Diana in a car crash in Paris 25 years ago.
A lot of people have wrong ideas about Dodi Fayed, the son of billionaire and former Harrods owner Mohammed Al Fayed. He was just 42 when he died. He continues: “I still have people come up to me and ask me if he’s still alive, and that tells you a lot about how his death has been presented in culture over the past 25 years.”
People think he was a playboy, seducing women and holding big parties. In reality, he was just the opposite: gentle, shy and awkward, says Khalid Abdalla. Abdalla portrays Dodi Fayed in season five of Netflix’s royal drama ‘The Crown,’ which begins airing today, November 9.
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He remarks the Egyptian film producer has “never really been mourned because he’s never really been known”.
His name has been on people’s lips for 25 years but how much do they know about him? Virtually nothing. They might just know his father, that’s the most their knowledge can gather, since his father was very famous. Tagged along with Dodi’s name is the word ‘playboy’ that automatically comes to mind, avers the actor.
Dodi Al-Fayed and Khalid Abdalla. File/AFP
He says: “You ask yourself the question, ‘Wait, how come I’ve known his nickname for 25 years but I know nothing about him? And what does that say culturally?’”
Abdalla added that there is “a big wound that surrounds the fact that Dodi’s never really been mourned because he’s never really been known, and then there’s the wound that exists around Diana’s death, and his death with her”.
Dodi was an executive producer on the 1981 Oscar winner Chariots of Fire. His parents divorced when he was three and he wasn’t allowed to see his mother for a good part of his life.
He was in several boarding schools and had a strained relationship with his father. Mohammed Al Fayed wanted him to be an heir to something he did not want to be an heir to, remarks Abdalla.
With a dysfunctional background like that, you are not very good at long-term relationships. And when that happens, as you are already rich, you get branded a playboy, Abdalla adds.
He says that the show’s writer, Peter Morgan, “had a choice: either present Mohamed and Dodi as these token characters who pass by and we don’t know anything about, or treat him with the fullness and respect he does with the royal family”, according to the Independent.
“It’s almost as if he didn’t exist, and the fact I’m there as part of telling that story in its fullness, I think as a cultural intervention on behalf of Peter Morgan and ‘The Crown,’ that’s immense. It means a lot to people of my background, and by extension people of other backgrounds.”
Abdalla also remarks that portraying Dodi’s relationship with Diana was a daunting prospect but it was the honour of his life.
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