Mourad Zaoui is one of Hollywood’s finest rising stars. Although he recently shined in one of the main roles in The Forgiven alongside Jessica Chastain and Ralph Fiennes, his journey to stardom did not come without obstacles. Zaoui’s story displays a remarkable show of persistence and perseverance of someone in pursuit of their dream.
Mourad had starred in over 40 films and tv series in Morocco before heading to the US.
Zaoui was born and raised in Casablanca, Morocco. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business communication at the Lycée Elbilia in 1999, and then moved to New York City to study English at Queens College. During this time, Zaoui explored his love for acting, questioning if this was a career path he wanted to pursue.
Unfortunately, tragedy struck in 2002; Zaoui found out his father had been diagnosed with lung cancer. He immediately moved back to Morocco to care for him. To support his family during this crisis, Zaoui took over the family business, a shoe factory.
Right before his father’s death in 2004, Zaoui opened up to him about his dream of pursuing acting. With his father’s blessing, he decided to embark on his acting career, and began to look for roles in Morocco.
He struck success a year later, when in 2005 he landed a leading role in his first feature film, Wake Up Morocco. Mourad Zaoui played his role of a soccer player reminiscing about the past excellently. His performance in Wake Up Morocco is especially impressive considering the fact that he suffered from a motorcycle accident prior to shooting and even had appendicitis during filming.
Although the 40 films and tv shows he starred in brought Zaoui valuable experience in the industry, he decided to try his hand in the film capital of the world: Los Angeles. In the summer of 2013, he moved to California and soon after was signed by Angelina Jolie’s manager.
In 2016-just a few years after moving to L.A.- he was able to book the titular role of the Night Manager in the BBC’s The Night Manager. Zaoui acted alongside Tom Hiddleston in the episode he starred in, and the series even went on to win two Emmys. He continued to feature in notable series, such as in 2017 when he appeared on The Blacklist. There, he portrayed the role of Roqan Ghaffari in an episode that covers the intense subject of international terrorism.
After his appearances on The Night Manager and The Blacklist, Zaoui landed a recurring role in The Spy. The series follows Sacha Baron Cohen as the spy and Mourad Zaoui plays the role of Benny. The show tells the true story of Israel’s most prominent spy, Eli Cohen, and his infiltration of the Syrian government in the 1960s.
Following his role in The Spy, Zaoui booked his most notable role as Hamid in The Forgiven. The film follows Fiennes and Chastain who play a married couple that accidentally killed a teenager in Morocco while traveling to an old friend’s party.
In The Forgiven, Zaoui portrays a butler named Hamid whose guidance is central to the plot’s resolution. One critic highlighted Zaoui’s performance, expressing “He acts as the mediator of cultures throughout the entire film. He is essential and impressive.” Aside from the fact that the film features some of Hollywood’s finest, filming The Forgiven was a special experience for Zaoui since it was filmed on the High Atlas Mountains, which is in his home country of Morocco.
After his amazing success in The Forgiven, Zaoui is expected to star in even more prominent roles in the upcoming future. He plays a crucial role in the upcoming short film Hollywood Trick, which was officially selected at the 2021 Chelsea Film Festival. Zaoui will portray Mo, the owner of a gentleman’s club, that the main characters-portrayed by Gigi Gustin and Victoria Baldesarra- work at.
Additionally, he will be featured in the upcoming film by Rick Mordecon, Dominique, as Dr. Salih Darwish. The film is highly anticipated, and follows the story of a young woman who is fleeing from danger.
Zauoui’s journey has not been an easy one, but proves that if you are dedicated to your passion, you can achieve your dreams. Mourad Zaoui continues to climb his way up in Hollywood, with each role he plays showing off his versatility and strength as an actor.