“I have a very expressive face, when African or Moroccan people talk, we talk with our faces,” he said, describing his scenes as the prince of darkness playing opposite Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado’s Jesus. “Satan taught me how to manage my close-ups, because Satan didn’t feel anything, didn’t suffer anything.”
Ouazzani’s face lights up as he talks about the filming, displaying little real-life resemblance to his gloomy character in the movie.
Ouazzani praised the producers and the professionalism on the set, which dealt with its own set of challenges, including Morocco’s ample desert serpent population.
“Before you go to the set, there was a special person who knows about serpents and scorpions and they go through and clean everything,” said Ouazzani, describing how one of the snake wranglers even caught one in the middle of production.
“He came into the middle of the set, he looked around and then went running and took up a snake from under the sand with his hand,” he said.
Ouzzani said working on a series like “The Bible” has been particularly enjoyable because it gives him a taste of the Hollywood system — something many Moroccan actors yearn to do.
“Hollywood is the only cinema where I really feel like an actor,” he said, “the rest feels do-it-yourself.”
While dozens of American productions have been shot in Morocco, including “Gladiator,” ”Kingdom of Heaven,” ”Blackhawk Down,” ”The Bourne Ultimatum” and most recently the TV series “Game of Thrones,” they feature comparatively few Moroccan actors.
Ouazzani ascribes being cast to luck and knowing the right people — but speaking French, Spanish, Italian, English and Arabic hasn’t hurt. He credits his time as a flight attendant for the national airline, Royal Air Maroc, with putting him in daily touch with people from all over the world.
He started acting in his 20s and has appeared on the Spanish stage, played a police inspector in French movies, and will play a terrorist leader in an upcoming Spanish film about the 2011 bombing of a tourist cafe in Marrakech.
And who knows, maybe a chance comment by a conservative commentator will open the gates to Hollywood.
“Some good has come out of this,” he said, adding with a twinkle in his eye: “Before, I knew who Obama was, and now he knows me, and if he has time I’d like to invite him and his family for couscous in Morocco.”