Mohamed Diab Interview: Moon Knight | Screen Rant

The Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand with the release of Moon Knight on Disney+. The limited series stars Oscar Isaac as Steven Grant/Marc Spector, a man with dissociative identity disorder. Moon Knight promises to be a unique entry in the MCU, embracing darker tones and themes to tell its story. Mohamed Diab was one of the directors entrusted to bring this narrative to audiences.

Screen Rant spoke with Diab to discuss the process of making Moon Knight, accurately portraying Egyptian culture onscreen, and much more.

Related: Grant Curtis Interview for Moon Knight

Screen Rant: What does it feel like to introduce Moon Knight to longtime fans, but also a slew of new potential fans?

Mohamed Diab: Being picked to tell a small part in the biggest cinematic run in the history of cinema is something historical for me. But definitely, as always, I'm a perfectionist, and I always wanted more. So, I wanted to be unique. I wanted my take to be different, and I think maybe that's why Marvel picked me. Because I have a different voice and different experience, coming from Egypt, coming from my life and life experiences.

My films, which are more grounded and more dramatic, come from a different world. My films go to festivals and are completely different. But I felt like I was looking for a project. I moved here three years ago to the US, trying to find the project that I can enter Hollywood [with], but still feels like me.

And I found what I'm looking for in Moon Knight, because if you stripped it down, it's a story about someone who needs to learn how to live with himself, which is something I can identify [with]. That's why I will tell you today, even though it feels so different in scale, I feel that this is an extension of my films.

What a dream. How does that call go, when they're like, "We want you to do Moon Knight?"

Mohamed Diab: Oh, my God. First of all, hearing about the project, me and Sarah - Sarah is my partner, co-writer, and my wife. She's my producer, and she's a producer on the show. We read it and felt like we were born to do this, so we put together a 200-page pitch covering everything. We sent it and had couple of interviews with them.

And then two months later, we were on the beach with our kids, and I got the call that I got it. We were dancing like crazy people in front of everyone. They couldn't understand what we were saying, but we knew that this was gonna change our lives. It's a big responsibility to be the first Egyptian to do that. And maybe if we succeed, we can open doors to other people to do that. So, it's a big responsibility.

On top of that, what does it mean to share Egyptian culture with Marvel fans? What are you most excited for fans to see in Moon Knight?

Mohamed Diab: In Egyptian culture, I am like the Egypt police. Everything has to be [right].

The way we are always portrayed in cinema has always bothered Egyptians, because it's mostly not shot in Egypt. Imagine Paris, and you're seeing Big Ben at the back. It's insulting, and it hurts. Or it's shot in Egypt, but you're trying to make it a bit exotic, so you always see the pyramids and the desert - even though if you turned around a little bit, it's in the middle of the city.

I teamed up with great people. I teamed up with Stefania Cella, a great production designer, and Meghan Kasperlik, who's a great costume designer. I told them my vision, I told them the problems that I always see. And they did a genius job recreating Egypt - ironically, not in Egypt; in Budapest. But I almost teared up when I saw the location come to life, vibrant and feeling like real Egypt.

Really, those guys did such a hell of a job, because it's not an easy thing to depict Egypt the way it is. Or any place that's a culture that they don't belong to, but they did their homework and went above and beyond to get that done. And they did.

Tell me about the moment you stepped on set for the first time.

Mohamed Diab: Stepping on set for the first time always feels like the first day of school. You are trying to be confident, but you're not.

By the way, you would be surprised that legends like Ethan Hawke feel the same. The first day he told me, "I was so nervous." 35 years doing that, you're a legend, but that's the way it is. Until a couple of days later, you just fully get the hang of it, and you just roll until it's done. It was such a long, long process.

This is a quite a contained story, and I think it's really accessible for new fans who haven't kept up with everything going on in Marvel. But how much do you think about the greater MCU when you're making something like Moon Knight and thinking about what other sandboxes you could play in?

Mohamed Diab: I want to tell you, I am proud that a lot of people are telling us that if you cut the Marvel logo, no one is going to know that this is a Marvel show. I'm happy that we pushed the envelope enough that it feels like it's something that is unique on its own.

But I have the feeling that Moon Knight is here to stay. That's not something that I know, by the way - no one knows what else is gonna happen to Moon Knight. But I want to tell you that he's such an interesting character that I feel he's here to stay, and I can't wait to see him interact with other superheroes and drive them crazy.

Is there another superhero actor you would love to direct?

Mohamed Diab: I love a lot of people. I love everyone in the MCU. Oscar said this idea about teaming up with the Hulk. It's a crazy idea to have two people, in a way, who have two characters interacting with each other. Just imagine that back and forth, back and forth, between the four of them. It would be so interesting. I like Mark Ruffalo, for sure.

I love everyone, but I'm telling you that interaction could be very interesting.

Moon Knight has a lot of diehard fans, but then there's also people that are meeting him for the first time with the series. Is there a wine and cheese pairing comic that you would recommend if people wanted to learn more about Moon Knight?

Mohamed Diab: Moon Knight's had almost 14 runs so far. There were so many iterations, but I think we leaned more - especially Jeremy Slater, the great writer who created the show - on the Lemire run, which I love.

It's deals with a lot of DID and disorientation, which is something I think we tried our best to embraced. We have that feeling, and I have to give it to Marvel and Jeremy for picking the best way to tackle our project.

I'll admit I read that run last night in one sitting. I could not put it down; it blew me away.

Mohamed Diab: Oh my God, such a great run. I love it. I'm so lucky because it opens the best door for someone like me, a director, to play with all those genres at the same time: horror, comedy, action, thriller and drama.

And dealing with something as delicate as DID with the utmost respect, although it's not an accurate depiction, because it's in a superhero world. But you saw the blackouts, and you saw all those things that we did. I think we have a signature, and how everything goes through it. You're seeing the world through the lens of someone who has DID. It's really interesting, and I'm lucky that I landed that project.

Next: Ethan Hawke Interview for Moon Knight

Moon Knight is now streaming on Disney+. New episodes debut Wednesdays.

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