ZD: I think they are both very similar. They put what they love to do first, over who they love. Sultan is still living half the time in Egypt and half the time in New Haven where he is a professor, like most archeologists. Hana pursued her career as a doctor, she didn’t want to follow Sultan around, she did her own thing. She obviously wants to help, to change the world, but she is also broken by it as she puts herself in danger, perhaps because her life was unstable and so she lost any fear she might have. That’s something I noticed about the doctors on the frontline. They were all going through something personal, like a divorce, or a death in the family. They wanted to be exposed and they wanted to help.
We do not learn much about their past relationship. Did you create some details for your characters?
AR: We did. We talked. Karim and Zeina and I talked in preparation about the history of his character, which they talked very little about in the film, but I think is telling in the way that our bodies move near one another, and in the playfulness that we have with one another. This is a relationship that’s 20 years in the making. And you see that when Sultan enters in the script, that brilliant part of the script where Sultan enters Hana’s hotel room and lies down on bed. They have a shorthand.
You know, Karim and I didn’t know each other when we came to this project. And now we are in a relationship with one another, we’re partners.
When we came to it, there was a lot of silence. There was just a lot of you know, I mentioned the walking, there’s a lot of walking and holding hands and sense of ease and consistency that was both hugely exciting and very familiar. We can’t take all the credit for it. There was a part of that, that was not make-believe.
“Luxor” will be available on demand and on digital platforms on December 4.