WotSeries: Hello Fares. How are you?
Fares Fares: I’m good. How are you?
WotSeries: Good, thank you. Really appreciate the opportunity. First and foremost, I would like to congratulate you on the really fantastic season. By all accounts. Our group, we cater mostly to fans so we’re with all the people who just honestly lost it, didn’t expect something like this from Ishamael, that you brought to the screen, so, very excited.
Fares: (chuckles) Thank you so much.
WotSeries: To start, last we saw you in season one. You had that little smile on your face and you’re being enveloped by light and then, obviously, some of us fans knew that you might have won that battle even though it didn’t look like it on screen. And then you also open season two for us with the fantastic scene that’s also dear to the fans, what we call the “Darkfriend social.” What was the transition like for you from season one — small part last episode – to – hey, I’m gonna basically run the board – in season two?
Fares: Well, the thing is that I knew when we were – you know, when I first got asked to do this – was that the character would be like introduced in the first season, and then most of the stuff that will come up in the second season. I had already had several meetings with Rafe where we had actually talked about, in general, what was going to happen for my character at least and in season two. So, I knew that the events in the last episode in season one was kind of like, for him to more or less get released from his prison basically. And he actually got exactly what he wanted. And, yeah, probably, like you say, like the fans would know that, you know, that little smile would mean that, “Okay. I’m out.” He was all about kind of like, you know, gathering forces, and try to convince the Dragon to come to our side.
WotSeries: You know, you almost convinced a lot of us to come to your side. I’m not gonna lie here. The smile itself that you had, was that something that you had? What was the direction around that? Like, how do you capture, not super obvious that “I did win, but we’re not gonna let everybody know” because we also see that happen.
Something that we appreciate sometimes because we rewatch things, in season two, we appreciate that smile appears quite a few times. A lot of times with the interactions with Rand and Perrin and Mat. Was that practice? Did you have to do a lot of takes for that just to capture this moment?
Fares: (chuckles) No, actually. Almost like always just go with whatever gut feeling I have. And just play the part, and if I believe in the moment myself, it’s just stuff will come out, and I’ve never been the type of actor that, you know, like the “mirror actor”, as I call it… So, the smile was about – I don’t know, I saw the character a little bit like he was a cat and he was toying with his prey a little bit. So, the smile was kind of like, ”I’m in control here.” But of course, he needed to be a little bit… so it wouldn’t be too much of a giveaway. Yeah. Especially people who read the books. Because they didn’t know that, you know that it was Ishamel in season one. Everybody thought was the Dark One himself.
WotSeries: And honestly testament to the fact that it really worked because even some of the hardcore fans there were Pausing frame by frame. It was like, “was it a smile? Was it not?” so, it really worked.
Speaking of that and understanding Ishamael, you know, thinking of him like a cat, as you said. Ishamael the character, as a single figure yields so much power. He’s ancient. He’s larger than life. His end game is to end it all. A lot of times, you’ll see some of these characters in other properties, they’re all in, but they seek power or something, you rarely see somebody who’ll just want to stop everything. How did you prepare for this character? How did you get in his head?
Fares: Well, the thing that I took the most out of the stuff that I read and when I was researching was that he used to be like a philosopher, and he thought that the one thing that’s really huge for this character is that he’s in pain, obviously. And he is in pain because everybody else is in pain as well. And he truly believes that the only way to stop all this suffering is actually by ending the cycle. And, I thought it was kind of like a very huge thing to build on, and I just went with that. So for me, Ishamael wasn’t really evil. He just believed that he wanted to help everyone by just ending the pain, and, yeah, some people will suffer because of it, but the suffering won’t last forever.
WotSeries: And honestly, compared to the book version of the character, you did bring a lot of sympathy and humanity to Ishamael. I mean that scene that you had with Dónal Finn in Falme. When you talk about these things, and the suffering, and the first time you slept after you took that tea. The narrative there was really, honestly compelling and convincing a lot more than its counterpart in the books. Was that humanity, that sympathy? Was that purposeful from the writers and the direction or is that just what you brought to the character?
Fares: I think it might have been a combination. Or maybe I brought it in and then they took it and ran with it. I’m not sure. The thing is that for me, in order to be able to do a character, I really have to believe it, and I don’t believe that I’m an evil person. Because there was like a certain philosophy in him that he could understand. To make someone evil, that’s just not interesting. Not many layers in that. I thought it was much more interesting to do a character that, if he believes that some of those characters like the Dragon or his friends, that if he would have a chance for them to kind of lean to his side, it can’t be obviously evil. It doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t work. So he needs to believe in something that actually makes sense for people. I mean, it happens to be the dark side, but he needs to believe that it’s for a good cause.
WotSeries: Yeah, absolutely. And again, that did come through a lot. Just one quick question. I hear you speak Swedish, Arabic, English, and I read somewhere that you learned Danish for The Keeper of Lost Causes. From watching some of your videos, you even speak a couple of dialects of Arabic. You had a few lines and a full scene with Lews Therin in the Old Tongue, can you tell me a little bit about that? You know, just how did you get into that? Did you like it? Did you like this kind of stuff acting in a language?
Fares: Yeah! I like it because it’s interesting. Because there is a language. Is it like a couple thousand words written or something?
Fares: And we had a dialect coach and our dialect coach had kind of put the language together and made the language out of those stuff and other stuff that she had, and I thought it was really cool. I mean it’s a cool thing to kind of speak a completely new language. And, as long as you know the meaning of the words you can actually give them the right kind of emotion. So, it was very important to know what everything meant to be able to not just make it sound like gibberish. So for us, for me, at least, it really was a language. It meant something. So it was lots of fun. I practiced a lot with my dialect coach.
WotSeries: Great. That’s all the time we have. Again, really appreciate the time, and honestly, like I said, fantastic second season. You brought it really hard with Ishamael. You’ve created a lot of fans who are … like as a Forsaken, he wasn’t one of the ones who had a fan club, and he does now, and all thanks to you. Excellent performance.
Fares: (laughs) Thank you so much.
All eight episodes of season 2 are available now on Prime Video. Go binge!