A Conversation with Barna Moricz
Q: Your character defies the stereotypical image of a terrorist. What is your character's background?
A: My character was originally written to be an all-American boy: blonde hair, blue-eyed - but he's a Muslim. And a lot of people don't expect Muslims to be blonde and American-looking. My character is from Chechnya and immigrated here with his dad and sort of found more of a family with the Muslim people and religion than with his dad's materialistic attitude. Right away I identified with Kaz being an American, a Muslim and also training in an Arabic camp. I always thought of myself growing up in Libya as being part of that culture and as being a Muslim, even though I'm not a Muslim myself. I know where these boys are coming from, and I understand their fight. The meaning of jihad is a struggle and a fight. It's not necessarily a holy war.
Q: What research did you do for this role?
A: I did do a lot of research, but I grew up in Libya in North Africa since age 9, so I actually speak Arabic and was really immersed in the Muslim and Arab culture. I was there in '85 when Reagan bombed Libya. A plane was bombed in Lockerbie, Scotland, too, and it was all woven together with terrorism. The night before the bombing, my English teacher gave us an assignment to write an essay about what would happen if we were bombed overnight. Nobody really thought much about it or believed it, so we all went home and wrote little essays. The same night we actually got bombed. It was crazy. But for this specific role, I did a lot of reading. I read the Koran, which is part of my character's religion.
Q: Did the director and producers know of your past when you were cast as Kaz?
A: No, but once I booked the part, I was reading the script and noticed there is quite a bit of Arabic dialogue. I was talking to Tracey Alexander and I mentioned that I do speak Arabic. She was really surprised and happy.
Q: What was it like working with Dylan McDermott?
A: Working with Dylan McDermott is a huge honor for me. I'm a big fan.