Haaz Sleiman: Jackie's Strength

Haaz Sleiman is just what the doctor ordered as a gay Muslim named Mo-Mo in Showtime's Nurse Jackie.




Mo-Mo is pretty butch compared to Nurse Jackie's other gay male nurse, Thor, played by Stephen Wallem.
Initially, I didn't want Mo-Mo to be at all effeminate. I really wanted to focus on his qualities as a person rather than the physical. The director who directed the pilot was leaning more toward the effeminate without even realizing he was doing it, but I didn't like that, and the writers and the producers were on my side. In terms of Thor, I think the actor himself is very similar to the character, so there is a sense of authenticity there in terms of physicality.

Mo-Mo does get some sassy lines, like, "If I had to choose between George Clooney's cock and this cup of coffee, I'd say coffee."
[Laughs] That was one of the hardest lines I've ever had to say, to be honest with you. I was saying it straight, but the director of that episode, Steve Buscemi, wanted me to go further. He kept telling me, "Haaz, you want to talk about it like it's the best meal of your life." I was like, "Come on, man. Really?" Not because it's gay or anything, but some of the words I had to say were a little bit uncomfortable. Let's just say that I appreciate George Clooney more now than I did before.

Did you have any hesitations or concerns before accepting the role?
No actor wants to be typecast, so you always want to make good, careful choices. If this character were in a different show that was kitschy and wasn't written well, I would've said no. But in the right context, a role like this is challenging and fulfilling. I never had any concerns with this show, but I was interested to see how the whole Muslim thing would go over. So far I haven't gotten any response from the Muslim community, but I have gotten a lot of positive response from people in the Arab community.

We know that Mo-Mo has a boyfriend named Ricky. Will the audience meet him soon?
You're not going to meet him in the first season, and I haven't met him yet either. You will see Mo-Mo kiss another guy, though, and it's someone that you won't expect. It's funny.

If you could pick any actor to play Ricky, whom would you cast?
Oh, Daniel Day-Lewis. That's a no-brainer right there. He's so brilliant. I just want to act with him, so I would love that. I would be in heaven.

Tags: television