Entertainment & Arts

Homeland star F Murray Abraham uncowed by terror attacks

F Murray Abraham Image copyright Simon Annand
Image caption Abraham's play ran in Bath for a month before transferring to London

Being in the UK during the recent spate of terror attacks has not left Oscar-winning actor F Murray Abraham feeling pessimistic about the future.

"It's going to change and it's going to get better," the Homeland star told the BBC. "I absolutely believe that.

"Things happen and you go on," Abraham continued. "It's the same in New York."

The actor, who won an Oscar in 1985 for playing Salieri in Amadeus, can be seen currently as an ill-tempered playwright in West End play The Mentor.

The production, which runs at London's Vaudeville Theatre until 2 September, marks his first West End appearance in more than 20 years.

Image copyright Simon Annand
Image caption Naomi Frederick plays the wife of the playwright whose work Abraham's character savages

"There's so much crap happening, not only in the USA but also in London," said the actor, whose long list of credits range from Shakespeare to Star Trek.

"It's time to pick yourself up and say get on with it, and that's what this play deals with."

Written by Germany's Daniel Kehlmann, The Mentor tells of a young playwright who receives a confidence-crushing critique from a respected theatrical figure.

Translated into English by Christopher Hampton, the play features an amusingly pompous performance from Abraham in a role that plays on his status as a distinguished veteran.

"He's not that cantankerous, he's just very demanding," says Abraham of a character very different from his recurring role as Homeland's Dar Adal.

A specialist in black ops who becomes head of the CIA, Adal is behind many of the clandestine plots that keep Claire Danes' Carrie Mathison busy on the popular US drama.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Abraham appears in Homeland alongside Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin

"I always play these bad guys and I'm really a nice guy," laughs Abraham, whose role as the Mozart-envying Salieri in Amadeus saw him win the best actor Oscar.

The actor is supportive of the Academy's recent moves to diversify its membership, saying "diversity is a good thing generally".

"It sounds like the Academy is doing what my good old USA is not doing," he goes on, referring to President Trump's controversial immigration ban.

"I'm first-generation American - my people came over on boats - and I think it's a shame to close the door on people who really need freedom."

Born Murray Abraham in 1939, the actor added F to his name as a tribute to his father Fahrid, who emigrated to the US from Syria as a child.

The actor is a spokesman for the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees, an umbrella organisation that seeks to raise awareness about the conflict in Syria.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption His other films include 1983's Scarface, in which he appeared alongside Al Pacino

Speaking after Tuesday's press night of The Mentor, however, Abraham also admitted to concerns of a more prosaic nature.

"The problem I have here is finding some really good fish and chips for a price you can really afford," he sighed.

"Is it possible to have triple fried chips without paying a fortune?"


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