He is talented, charming, and yes, ever-evolving – and he wouldn’t have it any other way! Talented actor Yorgo Chalhoub is the real deal, and we had the pleasure to get up close and personal with him on a sunny afternoon.
ON THE LEBANESE ACTING SCENE:
You have the reputation of being one of the top Lebanese actors. You are also known as one of the most “expensive” actors around… What do you have to say about that?
(Laughing) How do people know? Well, the media often says ‘he is the most expensive and he asks for too much money’. It’s not like Hollywood where the information is public anyways; they need to ask the producers about this - they should know. I think I just ask for my rights based on what I have built over the past 24 years; I don’t care about being the most expensive.
Do you ever accept or even refuse a role based on the other actors in the project?
Sometimes this is the case. The main characters can result in the failure of a program, and now that I have built my career, I have the power to say no to a project (even though I don’t really like to say that because it’s not nice to eliminate - but sometimes you have to).
It seems anyone can become an actor or actress today based on their looks and not necessarily their talent. What‘s your opinion regarding this?
This is the bad aspect of the field…. but these days competition is very high and things are getting much better. Great collaboration has to include all elements: the writers, producers, actors, and directors to really produce good work. The audience and the actors are changing with the times as well. The new generation is taking the art to new levels. As we all learn from our predecessors, they are also learning from the new generation too.
If you weren’t an actor, what would you be doing?
I could never sit behind a desk all day long, that’s for sure. I would do something involving ACTION, even in business!
ON SPORTS & WORKING OUT:
You mentioned you love action. Are you into any hobbies or sports involving action?
I used to be into so many kinds of action sports; I love waterskiing and downhill skiing. As an actor with varying schedules, it is hard to stick to a certain sport, hobby, or routine. Even weekends aren’t necessarily yours. Sometimes you worry about injuring yourself while practicing a dangerous sport, if you are working on a project.
What types of sports or exercises do you currently practice?
I love to perform bodybuilding, strength training, walking, running… it all depends on how I want my body to look or be at a certain time and how I am feeling about myself. I even enjoy trying to take on the physical appearance for certain acting roles. It helps get into character. Sometimes you turn into a character from the outside-in and other times from the inside-out.
How often do you work out?
I aim for 3-4 times per week, but it depends on my shooting schedule. If I notice I am gaining weight, I up my routine with more cardio and strength training to feel my best. I like to go to extremes, and sometimes this is not good. I was lifting such heavy weights at one time and damaged my back. That’s my character though.
ON FAMILY & CHILDHOOD:
How would you describe your childhood?
Controversial…. I was just 3 months old when the war began, so I grew up with the sounds of war. However, I remember having a lot of fun. I have a great family and was always surrounded by a lot of love. I had a lot of friends; we rode bikes, played outside, went to the beach. There is no perfect childhood in the end and my parents did their best.
I went through so many stages and my character has changed a lot over the years. I think that is what lead me to acting. I keep evolving as a person all the time. Maybe I am lucky to be like that, but sometimes it is disturbing in a way.
Having famous parents in the acting industry, was it inevitable for you to enter the field as well?
No, I hate that idea. My parents were surprised when I chose to study drama because I never mentioned my desire for it. I was into science mostly and wanted to become a fighter pilot because I love speed and action. However, since we didn’t have the necessary training facilities here, I thought of becoming a commercial pilot…. Then I decided that would be too boring - better to become an actor and get my own plane later on (hahaha). I flew a Cessna once though…
You are a dad! How many children do you have and what kind of father are you?
I have 4 kids… 3 daughters and 1 son: Sarah Maria, Sophia, Giorgio, and little Clara.
One day I would like my kids to answer this question about what kind of father I am. One thing I do know is that I love my kids so much and unconditionally. I just hope that the craziness I go through doesn’t affect my life with my children. I am not perfect but will always try to evolve as a father. They are the best thing that has ever happened to me.
ON LIFESTYLE & PERSONALITY:
How would you describe your life these days?
A little bit hectic. Sometimes things cool down and it’s peaceful… and other times it is chaotic inside my head. I am thinking too much… planning for the future both personally and business wise. I am at a point in my life where I am making many crucial and important decisions.
How would you describe your personality?
I actually don’t like to describe myself so simply. If I have to choose a word or two though I would say always changing… always evolving.
Are you an optimist or a pessimist?
Sometimes pessimistic ideas come to everyone’s head, but I usually try to be an optimist.
Are you an introvert or extrovert?
I am an introvert.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I really like watching movies and TV series… the American TV series are amazing!! House of Cards, for example, I have watched all the seasons. The writing, the build-up, the characters… it’s so smart and deep. The way they portray relationships… you see how open and crazy they are. They can tackle any subject and go to places that are taboo. They make the characters naked, figuratively that is.
How do you describe life in Lebanon?
HECTIC! I love it and I hate it. That’s how Lebanon is. When I leave the country, I can’t wait to come back. There is magic here. It’s never boring and there is always action! But the greatness of this country has been built on personal achievements… not by the government.
What are 3 things you can’t live without?
Water, action, my family… coffee… sex… creative thoughts… and beliefs…. Okay we have gone over the limit!
What do you do to de-stress?
Sports make me relax, so when I am stressed out I go to extreme sports – the adrenalin goes up and afterwards, even though I feel tired and pain sometimes, I feel relaxed. And sometimes I simply like to have a drink…
What is your favorite food?
I don’t have a favorite food. There is nothing that I hate. I love home-cooked Lebanese food!
Can you cook?
I can do steak, eggs, a little bit of pasta…lol…
What is your worst habit?
Smoking. I started at the beginning of my university days and unfortunately when you are in the theatre domain you tend to be surrounded by smokers…
ON SOCIAL MEDIA:
You don’t seem to really put yourself out there in social media. Why is this so?
That’s just me being me. I don’t like posting photos of myself; I am not into taking selfies and revealing where I am and what I am doing. I don’t feel the need. My work should speak for itself… and when you do a nice interview, people will get to know you and your ideas.
At the same time, I don’t blame or judge those who are into social media; that’s their style. One thing I learned in life is to not to judge anyone - you never know what makes others happy.
Which social media outlet do you prefer?
I would have to say Facebook. I have a Twitter account (but am not active) and an Instagram account where I post photos occasionally. It’s a nice way to communicate with fans; they love you and make nice comments about your work and send nice messages. Social media is just not my thing.