‘Moon Knight’: May Calamawy is The MCU’s First Egyptian Super Hero Scarlet Scarab
“It was just a testament to throwing yourself in and not putting too much thought."
By the end of Marvel Studios’ Moon Knight, the titular character and Mr. Knight aren’t the only avatars on the show. In a time of need and seeing no other way to stop Ammit, Layla El-Faouly reluctantly agrees to become Taweret’s temporary Avatar. Say hello to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first Egyptian Super Hero, Scarlet Scarab.
While Layla is less than thrilled about this (and actually has a list of contingencies for Taweret, too), the hippo deity is elated, literally screaming “LAAAAYLA!” for everyone to hear. As the Chamber of the Gods starts crumbling around her after Arthur Harrow’s assault, Taweret wants to talk about just the perfect costume.
Just like Khonshu previously embodied Marc to speak, Taweret now finds herself within Layla, as the fierce fighter struggles to balance her movements and the excited hippo’s gestures.
Originally, Antonia Salib — who does the voice and motion capture for Taweret — was going to perform this scene in the episode; however, at the last second, director Mohamed Diab decided it would be better if May Calamawy took it over.
“Mohamed came to me 30 minutes before we started filming, and was, ‘I actually want you to embody Taweret,’” revealed Calamawy. “And I was like, ‘What?’ I had to stand in front of a mirror next to Antonia, and have her choreograph me into the moment. Honestly, it's better that it happened that way, because I think if he had told me days in advance, I would have overprepared.”“It was just a testament to throwing yourself in and not putting too much thought. I had seen bits of Oscar going through that performance with Khonshu, and I realized it's a weird sensation. And that's what one of the gods said. It's a bit of a weird sensation, it can be painful, but you get used to it. And Layla had just gone through so much so, I was like, what's a really intense way to show this happening? Because she's also someone who's resisting it. This is someone who's experiencing what being an avatar entails for the first time; not someone who's used to the process.”
Salib was game to assist in the process, helping Calamawy through the whole performance. “She was frantically trying to copy what I was doing, so I acted out the scene as how I would play Taweret. She mimicked my gestures, and my intonation, and really did her best to bring my performance to life. Then, when we were filming these scenes, she had an earpiece while I was on the mic, feeding her the lines. Then we just took all that away, allowing her to do her own thing. It was great; it was an amalgamation of both of our performances.”
Additionally, Layla gets a fantastic new costume — complete with wings!
“It's funny because the pants were incredible,” Calamawy gushes. “We had this man named Wilbur, who hand-painted all of the designs on the pants, which I loved, and on the neck. The top part keeps you straight, so you're walking around already like this. And it feels really regal and royal. It’s just-- it's really cool. It's cool when you forget, and then you look down, and you're like, whoa."
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