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'Tyrant' newcomer Keon Alexander gives us inside look at Rami

Tyrant has been really bringing the drama this season, and a lot of the buzz surrounds this season’s brand new character, Rami Said. The enigmatic military commander has captured the hearts of fans who are now #Ready4Rami.

Actor Keon Alexander was able to take a moment between filming to speak with the Entertainment Weekly Community about his role as Rami, how Rami connects with real-world issues, and Rami’s Twitter fanbase.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY COMMUNITY: How would you describe Rami?

KEON ALEXANDER: Rami is a self-made man who, from a young age, felt a gaping hole in his heart. [He] looked out into the world and could see the other gaping holes in other people’s hearts, and decided that he would commit his life to filling that.

[H]e functions very much from a heart level. I think it’s more common than we think amongst our soldiers. It’s really connected me, in a way, to our people in uniform because I see how there’s an element of giving there, of the sacrifice. [Rami is] somebody who’s very heart-centered, but somebody who’s a warrior … somebody who’s trained himself to become the best at what he does and to fight. By the time we get to meet him in Tyrant, he’s at the top of his game; he’s still young, he’s a commander who’s decorated and trained in Britain and decorated with medals. He’s a badass, you know?

Yet he cares very much about humanity and wants to do good. He’s very much an idealist, in a way.

Rami is of two ethnicities, two cultures. As we saw in “A House Built on Sand,” he was being asked to choose one or the other. How did you get into Rami’s headspace?

It’s essentially not too far off [from me]; I’m pretty mixed myself, and I feel the weight of the two sides of my family on either shoulder, literally. That’s something I could relate to instantly with Rami because I felt responsible to my ancestors on both sides and felt that I was a representative of both of them, and that’s kind of the way I was raised.

From a young age, Rami was raised by his mother alone, but with oversight and guidance from his grandmother, Amira. [Rami] had a tutor from the UK, then moved to the UK for [his] military training. Not only [is Rami] partly a Said, partly an Al-Fayeed, but [Rami is] also partly a Brit, since that’s where [Rami had] his education and training. So it’s really three cultures going on there.

There’s a part of Rami that is of the people. [He’s] not a spoiled brat, by any means. Still, I [as Rami] feel as though I have royal blood. And on the other hand, living in the UK and seeing it all from the outside, I can see how other people perceive Abuddin and the stereotypes and racial and cultural judgements from the outside.

It’s interesting, because Rami is both lower class and upper class, both from the Said side and the Al-Fayeed side. He’s also a citizen of the world because he’s lived abroad and knows the different perspectives. He’s pretty complex, I’d say. He’s also a young person of modern times. So I think he’s an interesting addition to the cast of Tyrant because I think a lot of people can relate to him.

I think that if anyone was going to unify Abuddin and Ma’an, it would be Rami, because he is of the two worlds and he does have what I would call wisdom—there seems to be something else driving him, something that Bassam lacks. Bassam’s like, “I need to take over Abuddin to rectify something within myself.” If Rami was going to rule, it seems like he’d be like, “I want to unify everyone because I am all of you.”

Yeah! I just got goosebumps. Right on!

If I could whisper to the writers, “Do this, please,” that’s what I would want them to do, to have Rami lead Abuddin.

[laughs] As you see from the first meeting of Rami and Jamal, there’s something electric between father and son. I can tell you that when we were shooting that episode, the scenes between Ashraf [Barhom] and I were, actually, electric. There was something really special that you could sense, and it was so great to work with him because [Rami] could see beneath the mask of [Jamal] as president, and I could see the potential that I [as] Rami could offer for Abuddin, you know? It was almost like we were able to put some of the bullshit aside and speak truth to one another, even though there was so much unspoken.

I really think that Jamal sees the incredible potential that Rami has for Abuddin, big time. Especially because Rami isn’t coming from a place of ambition at all. That’s not so interesting to him at all. As I said, he’s an idealist. He really believes that if the young people can rise up and live and think in a way that’s bigger-minded … those young people can restructure a society [and] pivot the course of a nation, and we’re seeing that in the Middle East. We’re seeing how big of a jump we can take from one generation to the next, and I think Rami represents that potential, and I think it excites something in Jamal.

In the upcoming episode, you’re working closely with Moran Atias, since Leila pays Rami a visit. How was it working with Moran in that scene, and what can people expect to see?

Working with Moran is titillating. [laughs] She is so many things at the same time. Being there in the scene with her, not only as a military leader but also as a new face in the palace and also her stepson, makes it so beautifully complex that we never get tired of playing.

There’s a lot more to come. There’s a lot of interesting stuff where Moran and I get to play, and a lot of scenes come out of interesting moments and different sparks. That’s one thing I love about working with her—it’s constantly moving. It’s a joy.

Since Rami is the new guy in the palace, how do you think this upsets the rest of the family? How do you think the rest of the family members who don’t know about him will react?

[laughs] Well, I have to be careful, I can’t give away too much, but I’ll say this: Rami is a pretty potent force. He’s at the peak of his game; he’s confident, passionate, highly intelligent, and very well trained. He’s a leader. You get somebody like that, and you put him in the situation where people [are playing power games] … as much as they’re playing power games, they don’t really know what to do once you throw in somebody that’s that potent.

I think you guys are in for some great stuff because the writers have given Rami some great stuff to play with, and everyone has to up their game because Rami’s in town. It’s been fun to be the new guy on set too, because just as we’re getting to know each other as people, our characters are getting to know each other onscreen. It’s all very much alive and real. It’s been pretty fun, and I can’t wait for you guys to see what happens during the rest of the season.

I’ve seen you retweet people’s thoughts about your character and the episodes. Being a person of Twitter, how have you felt about the online reaction to your show and to your character?

I’m really quite new to all the social media stuff. So I’m still learning, but one thing that really fascinates me is how much the viewers directly affect a show, you know? The interaction isn’t just one way; it’s two-way. We’re still in the middle of shooting, and the producers are aware of the responses people have to plotlines and characters. To be able to interact with viewers who are giving us their time … to me, [the viewers’ time is] a huge gift. I don’t take that lightly. I know that we all live really busy lives, and to put aside an hour to really invest in characters and stories, to me that’s a huge gift.

I felt like, even though I hadn’t really done it much before, I wanted to hear directly how people were reacting to Rami showing up on the scene. A lot of the viewers had been on the Tyrant train since last season, and I wanted to figure out what people were saying. It’s been so great to hear how [excited] people are about Rami and how they’re connecting with him and wanting to see more. I feel really honored that Rami is resonating with people.

Do you have any message for your newfound fans who are waiting for more Rami?

[laughs] I’ve been learning about hashtags and all that stuff, and a bunch of people came up with the hashtag #Ready4Rami. I laughed so hard when I saw it; I even asked if I could use it! It’s funny that Rami has a presence online and it kind of makes my heart swell. We all have this idea how glamorous Hollywood is and all that stuff, but at the end of the day, my experience of it as an actor is really investing a lot of me into it. As much as people may say they don’t care what critics or people think, it does make a difference when a character resonates with people. To see that response in social media, it makes the whole experience of diving into Rami a little less solitary, you know? To know that there’s an entire posse who are looking forward to what comes of our 12-hour or 14-hour days makes it all even more worth it.

The only reason I got into this craft is because I saw it was a way to connect with other human beings. To connect with people I may never see in person, but whose hearts may somehow be affected by this work and whose minds may somehow be expanded in some little way. One thing I’m really grateful about is that I’m able to use the craft I’ve been training in and love so much on this project, which is very much dealing with issues in the headlines right now.

My hope is that through Rami and through the vision that he has for the Middle East and for politics, that we can empathize more with the situation. [We can] also realize that as young people, there is something that connects all of us. We can realize the power we all have. Part of that is expanding our minds and realizing we can be change we want to see in the world.

Tyrant airs Tuesdays at 10/9C on FX.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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