Nabil Al Halfawi: Veteran Actor Stirs Controversy as a Football Fanatic

Illustration by Ali Mandalawi

Veteran actor Nabil Al-Halfawi tops the most mentioned Egyptian actors on Twitter, as he is known for his striking political and social tweets.

Usually stirring controversy, Al-Halfawi is keen on tweeting on public incidents, his sports affiliation, and political views. Notably, he is a staunch fan of Al-Ahly Egyptian football team, which usually antagonizes fans of other Egyptian teams.

Recently, Nabil Al-Halfawi caused controversy over his latest tweet in which he wrote, "… After some time, great (Egyptian) actors such as Mahmoud Morsi, Ahmed Zaki, or (Yahya) Al-Fakharani became beyond evaluation… Same applies to Mosimane, El-Shenawy, or Afsha (Al-Ahly’s coach, goalkeeper, and midfielder respectively)”. He was severely criticized for comparing the footballers to great Egyptian actors with long career.

Al-Halfawi’s latest work is the last Ramadan series "Cairo Kabul", in which a number of talented artists participated. His role of a wise-man reflecting on life stormed Arab social media through memes in which people cited his views and quotes.

Nabil Muhammad Al-Halfawi, was born on April 22, 1947 in the Al-Sayeda Zainab neighborhood in which he lived and grew up.

The beginning of the problems that Nabil faced in his youth was choosing his higher studies. He was a lover of engineering and actually enrolled in an Engineering college, but his family forced him out of the faculty of Engineering, because his uncles owned pharmaceutical companies and needed a pharmacist. He did not like to study in the faculty of Pharmacy, but he worked in the companies of his uncles until the late President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized them. As result he left the field altogether and joined the Faculty of Commerce and graduated from the Department of Business Administration in 1966.

Nabil was an outstanding student. He participated in theatrical university competitions and proved his worth. Once he obtained his bachelor's degree, he joined the Higher Institute of Theatrical Arts.

Nabil Al-Halafawi – as an actor - is a quiet person who loves to hide from the limelight, his features are characterized by complete seriousness, and to the same degree his behavior is distinguished, whether in photographing his works or arranging his affairs in his private life, but these features are not commensurate with the field in which he decided to involve himself.

Al-Halfawi began his artistic life in 1970s by participating in several works, most notably the play “Antonio and Cleopatra” and the series “The Crime”.

In the 1980s, he rose to fame after he acted in famous films such as “Poor People Do Not Enter Heaven,” “A Teacher’s Assassination,” “Agent No. 13.” He entered the dramatic field more confidently, starting in the 1990s, with his participation in the second and third parts of “Raafat Al-Hagan”, then the series “Al-Zeiny Barakat”, “Magra El-Oyoun Wall” and “Zizinia”. Most prominently, he starred in the movie of “The Road to Eilat”, which narrates the story of a group of Egyptian frogmen who targeted and destroyed two Israeli vessels in the port of Eilat during the War of Attrition in 1969.

More of his roles included: “Afreet li kol mowaten” (A Ghost for Every Citizen), “Daeret al tabasheer al kookazeya” (Caucasus Circle) and some of his series were “Domoo Sahebat Al Galaalaa” (Tears of Her Majesty), “Hekayet Madina” (A Tale of A City), and “Al Hob wa Ashyaa Okhra” (Love and Other Things)

He received many awards including; The Best Actor Award from the Egyptian Society of Cinematography for his role in the series "Banat Zeinab" (Zeinab’s Daughters), and the Best Actor Award from the Alexandria International Film Festival for his role in the series "My Blood, My Tears and My Smile.”