This very emotional and intense film is based on the events that took place in Mumbai in 2008, when more than five hundred people were killed in terrorist attacks. This is also a film that is in search for heroes. What makes a man a hero?
What prompted the director to shoot the film is the way in which ordinary people behaved in that situation. These are people who belonged to all sorts of castes and who acted heroically in that situation. Although everything that happened was horrifying, it was a message of hope. That is what the heroes are made of. Heroes are ordinary people. In a world that where we are often divided because of our differences, what is common to all is humanity that manifested itself in such difficult circumstances. I would even say that what happened was not heroic, but humane.
Many of the hotel employees who survived the attack returned to their jobs. Did you have the opportunity to talk to them?
The film was based on a documentary called Surviving Mumbai. The story is about ordinary people who worked there and who could have left their job, but they did not. They decided to stay there, risking their lives to save the billionaires who were in that hotel, although they themselves worked for extremely small pay. The director spent a year and a half talking to those people and listening to the transcripts of conversations that the terrorists led from the hotel. I spoke to some of these people, but these conversations are private.
The film was directed by Anthony Maras. What was the collaboration with him and what were his guidelines for you?
My character did not exist in real life. The director tried to maintain tension. He divided actors into those who played terrorists and staff, who were separated. We had big speakers from which bullets and bombs were heard continuously. We were constantly under this feeling of tension and terror as if we really were hostages, and often we did not know what would happen next, who would be killed next.
What is the message of this film?
This story should give us hope and show us that there are many more things that connect us than those that separate us. This is a difficult film to watch, but it really gives hope.
You worked with Ridley Scott on Black Hawk Down, but you were also part of Harry Potter's cast. How much was that character inspiring for you as an actor?
The film about Harry Potter and the film Hotel Mumbai, which will be shown tonight, are not really that much different. The film about Harry Potter, although a fairy-tale, actually speaks of the rise of fascism and this fascism best illustrates my character in Harry Potter. He is a traditional, old fascist, similar to the one who is sitting in the White House today. He is actually a coward, like all the bullies and J. K. Rowling managed to make a story that, although fantastic, talks about contemporary issues, without imposing politics in the film. His evil and aggression emanate from fear, he fears that there comes the time in which he will no longer have significance.