Introducing Omar Sharif Jr.
BY Ross von Metzke
February 28 2011 8:10 PM ET
They shoot in LA. — maybe you can go full circle.
That would be great. I certainly like fashion. I’m so grateful to Calvin Klein collection for giving me the tuxedo and having me wear it on stage. And actually now, they’re letting me keep it. They said I represented them well. Two days before the show, I didn’t have a tuxedo. The one wardrobe gave me for the show was a complete disaster. A contact called the people at Calvin Klein and they Fed-Exed one over night. Otherwise I would have been on the stage in my underwear, which may have interested some but I don’t think the Academy would have appreciated it.
What was the most nerve-racking part of the evening?
It was a commercial break when I was standing next to Kirk, just looking at him, knowing that, you don’t know where he’s going to go with this. You saw, a couple time I went to give him the envelope because there was nothing left on the prompter and I had to pull back…
Now were you standing out there during all of Melissa Leo’s acceptance speech?
I was there the whole time. She turned around at one point and just yelled, “Omar,” and smiled at me. Downstairs, we had a little moment in the changing room, actually. She came in and she was just sitting there and I was like, “Oh, sorry, do you want me to leave you alone?” And she said, “No, whatever, if you don’t mind sharing, I don’t mind.” She’s like, “Are we both here waiting for Omar Sharif?” I said, “No, you’re actually looking at him.” So we got to talking a little bit and she was going to take her shoes off. And I said, “don’t put on ballet slippers, you keep your shoes on. If I was the entire Academy, the decision would be unanimous and you’d win. So you keep your heels on and you be ready just in case.” So when she got onstage, she turned to me, looked at her shoes and yelled my name.
What was your favorite moment of the night?
I think Anne Hathaway is multi-talented and I had no idea she can do everything. And she really can. She can sing, she can dance. In rehearsals, they kept adding and taking out, and they kept improvising, and she, no matter what, always impressed. Also, people who are inspiring standing right in front of you. Certainly Oprah. I got to walk with Oprah and chat with her a little bit. I don’t know, you just realize all these big names are really just real people. Everyone’s super cool and friendly. High-fiving you. Sharing your water. It was pretty awesome.
James Franco, obviously, wearing tights then a dress last night. Could you put it all out there like him?
Absolutely. The point of hosting a show is to entertain. You do whatever you can. It’s not about you. Ego aside, it’s about entertaining. It’s Hollywood’s biggest night.
Switching gears for a second to Egypt — you grew up there, at least part of the time, and now, we’re hearing a lot about human rights issues and, among them, of course, are gay rights issues. What would you want people to know about your experiences there and the situation for people there now?
Well, it was bittersweet being on stage yesterday, just because… I’m having such a great time, it’s such a wonderful experience, and known that so many of my friends and my family are living through such a tumultuous time. That being said, after 30 years… or lets say centuries or millenniums — people are finally standing up and voicing their legitimate claims to self determination. Human rights and equal rights — it isn’t based on religion, based on politics, based on gender. It’s across the board. Actually, the first time I met Bruce Cohen, the producer of the Oscar, was at a benefit for the American Foundation for Equal Rights where Elton John was singing. They raised a substantial sum to fight Prop. 8. Coming from the Middle East especially, I’m mindful of these issues, and it’s not something you get to pick and choose.