Week after week, Marvel Studios’ “Moon Knight” has engaged audiences with its unique storytelling through the eyes of Steven Grant and his other alter-ego, Marc Spector. Without a doubt, the two leads, Oscar Isaac and Oscar Isaac, have had phenomenal chemistry themselves. We know, we just had to emphasise the plurality of it all.
Yet, the spectrum of light that surrounds the white knight does not limit itself to the dynamic between Steven and Marc. Undoubtedly, much credit has to be given to its “Minority Report”-inspired villain that Ethan Hawke plays along with May Calamawy’s ever-determined personality.
“Summon the suit”
While not making a physical appearance in the series premiere, Layla El-Faoully’s presence has been felt. She is the variable in Steven’s messy mind and life that heightened the intrigue factor. Who is she? Really? Why is she attempting to get to Steven to answer her calls? Questions were pouring in from all that even the Egyptian deity Thoth might have trouble explaining.
It is only later that we find out that she is actually the estranged wife of the Marc Spector personality, a ruthless mercenary who ran away to keep her safe. The mystery unfolds and we find that Khonshu, the Egyptian moon deity has some lunatic plans for her: he wants her as his new Moon Knight!
Paving the way for a more inclusive and diverse industry, May Calamawy comes at full force with her casting in “Moon Knight”. A majority might actually be surprised that her character Layla El-Faoully does not actually originate from the comics. As a matter of fact, the feisty and determined personality of Layla was specifically written for the show on the first week of the writer’s room. In turn, this gave the writers a chance to play around with a more culturally diverse cast, especially since Egypt plays a central part in the main narrative.
Despite the character only being a month old in the minds of fans, there is no doubt that Calamawy’s lead is an integral part of the “Moon Knight” saga now. Going on an Indiana Jones-esque journey to Egypt with her has been quite the adventure. She has been raiding tombs ala a certain Croft and uncovering mysteries alongside her husband, Marc.
To many, it may seem like “Moon Knight” is the launchpad for the Bahraini-born actress. Nevertheless, Calamawy’s massive break came from starring in the Hulu and Emmy-nominated series “Ramy”. Working on a project which dealt with the life of American Muslims who have to deal with faith alongside a plethora of other topics gave her a unique perspective.
Playing the role of Dena, the lead character’s sibling on “Ramy”, was deeply close and personal to her heart. She was very open to fusing her own life experiences and her background with the show’s narrative. Indeed, creator Ramy Youseff himself praised her effort on this. With her talent and ability to immerse herself in her work, May is definitely one of the most exciting prospects of her generation.
We recently got a chance to speak with the lovely queen herself on the weight of her “Moon Knight” role. Besides, we also touched upon the cultural movement of the show. Lastly, we discussed her thoughts on the MCU’s criticism.
1. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has achieved and enjoyed mainstream popularity. However, with that sort of success comes criticism with some saying that it tends to be repetitive. Now, as someone who has actually worked on an MCU project, what are your thoughts on such a sentiment?
May Calamawy: “I don’t ever think two things can be the same because there are two different people who work on them. Different cultures are involved. There are different backgrounds. Different expertise. And it’s different [stories] that we haven’t seen.
Obviously, elements tonally might be similar across the board but no two stories are ever going to be done the same, especially by different actors.”
“I think if people enjoy the differences in the nuances, and are curious about them, then they can enjoy all of them. But if you’re viewing it all as the same, I’d say just go a bit deeper.”
2. As an Egyptian, what does it feel like to be a part of “Moon Knight”, bringing Egyptian culture to the rest of the world?
May Calamawy: “It feels really cool. I feel like I’m learning. I’m half Egyptian but I never lived in Egypt. I would only go in the summers. So, I almost feel that this project has brought me closer to Egypt.
I hope that it kind of does that for people around the world. To pique their interest and for Egyptians to feel extra proud that they are being represented. It’s the small things you know that make it special.”
3. What would you say you would like audiences to take away from Layla’s journey by the end of the “Moon Knight”?
May Calamawy: “Despite everything that Layla has been going through with Marc. What she’s gone through with the loss of her father and discovering more information, she is able to focus on the threat to the world… That is possible.
And… she just wants to keep her head… around that. I find that it takes a lot of strength to do that. It taught me a lot. I feel like that’s what I can say…”
Marvel Studios’ “Moon Knight” is currently streaming on Disney+. Be sure to catch the final mind-blowing episode on Wednesday, 4th May 2022!