Interview: Ali Azhar Talks “Around the World in 80 Days”

Ali Azhar is a French-Moroccan actor born in Paris. He studied classical theatre in Paris and Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London. He also studied dance at Broadway Dance Centre in New York. His latest credits include “Glory” (Red Ladder Theatre Company), “Landscapers” (HBO/SKY), “Henry V”/“The Tempest” (Shakespeare Rose Theatre) and “Top Boy” (Netflix). Here, Ali talks previous ventures and his roles in York Theatre Royal’s upcoming production of “Around the World in 80 Days”.

Have you played at York Theatre Royal before? Or worked with any of the other cast and creatives before?

This is my first time working with YTR and with our cast & creatives.

Any York or Yorkshire connections?

I worked with the Shakespeare Rose Theatre (SRT) in 2019 in The Tempest and Henry V, and met and worked actors from York/Yorkshire.

Born in Paris, studied theatre in Paris and London, and dance in New York – where do you consider home?

I feel home when I’m on stage.

You play The Clown in the circus-themed Around the World in 80 Days – do you like playing the clown in real life?

I was always a clown as a child, trying to make people laugh, especially my mum. I loved hearing her amazing laugh and giving people a good time.

You also play Passepartout – how does he fit into the story?

He is the one that actually experiences the cultures, meeting people and really feeling it emotionally. Passepartout doesn’t hide his emotions, he shares everything with us, he is honest but also impulsive, we travel around the world through his eyes.

Would you like to go around the world in 80 days?

I’d love to one day when traveling is safe again and it will be!

Best place you’ve visited?

Castle Howard, its gorgeous garden, paintings and the Antique Passage really moved me.

Worst place you’ve visited?

I haven’t found one yet!

Place you’d most like to visit?

South Italy.

Role you’d most like to play?

Hamlet.

Most memorable moment on stage?

Covering for Caliban on the first preview of The Tempest with 3h 30 minutes notice.

Stage moment you’d rather forget?

In Henry V I played The Dauphin. During the first preview, I tripped over a word and completly lost my line, couldn’t remember it. Looking in the eyes of my cast mates saying with their eyes ‘You’re on your own mate’. I went one line back and found the rythm and the line again. It lasted 2 seconds but felt like an eternity!

Any hobbies, passions, obsessions you’d like to reveal?

I started to play chess after watching The Queens Gambit on Netflix, totally obsessed by the game. I also love languages, I hope to become a polyglot one day, working on my Spanish and Arabic at the moment.

So there you have it! “Around the World in 80 Days” plays outdoor venues & York Theatre Royal 6 – 28 August. More information and tickets here.

Q&A courtesy of Steve Pratt.

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