How would you introduce yourself?
My name is Skandar Keynes. I have a Lebanese mother and a British father. Between the ages of 12 and 19 I acted in three films as part of The Chronicles of Narnia series, and I'm currently studying Arabic and Middle Eastern History at the University of Cambridge.
You are English or an English citizen with a Lebanese mother. What does this mean to you?
My Lebanese heritage is very important to me and I feel very attached to Lebanon having spent a lot of time there on an almost yearly basis for as long as I can remember. However, as you rightly put it, I only have British citizenship and would hope that one day I will be able to attain dual citizenship. At the same time however, I'm still attached to my English roots and that side of my family and see no contradiction between this and my affinity towards my Lebanese heritage.
Are you learning the Arabic language?
Well I'm currently studying it at university because despite the odd words I picked up from being there in my summers, I haven't learnt it properly up until now. I'm really excited to become fluent and confident that I will be able to speak properly. My vocabulary up until this point has mainly been basic words you hear thrown around every day, but my knowledge of grammar and any words that aren't spoken on a daily basis is severely limited. filling in these rather large gaps has proved to be a really rewarding exercise so far.
How were you chosen for the films?
I was really in the right place at the right time. I attended a small acting class after school on Thursdays, which was basically for a bit of fun, and a casting agent walked into one of the classes and realised that I looked about right for the part and that I'd fit well with the others who they'd already chosen.
Would you like to be an actor in the future?
At the moment I'm focusing on my degree which I'm really enjoying so far and I'm not going to do anything that might jeopardise that. In four years when I'm finished I'll see how I feel and what I want to do then but it's really too early to be saying exactly what I want to do as a career in my life when I still have four years of university ahead of me.
How do you feel about the film being shown in Lebanon?
I think it's great! One of my favourite moments of the whole Narnian experience was seeing the second film being shown in Lebanon. I know it's a relatively small market when you compare it to the rest of the world but it still means a lot to me.
How do you assess the film? And do you think it is directed at kids only?
I was really happy with the final product the first time I saw it and think that everybody did a great job in bringing this film together, especially after we had so many problems along the way with Disney pulling out at one point. I do think that fundamentally this is a children's film but I don't think that has to mean that only kids can enjoy it. It's meant for the whole family and the child inside all of us. If an adult approaches it as a children's film and a bit of fun there's no reason why they can't enjoy it too. With that said, there are also many undercurrants throughout the film and the whole series that are aimed more at adults and which the kids won't pick up.
Do you think the lesson learned of the movie is the conflict between good and evil?
I think that the conflict between good and evil is definitely a key theme in this film in a very raw form. However, I believe the lesson learnt from this film isn't so much that it's inevitable that good will defeat evil, but that it requires strength of character to overcome personal temptations and triumph over evil, and that this is by no means an inevitability simply because it's what is right.
Is it true that you don't like to appear frequently in the media? Are you in general shy?It's not that I'm particularly shy but I just don't like the idea of publicising myself as a 'celebrity'. I don't really enjoy being recognized and I feel that putting my face out there inevitably leads to people bugging me more that I want. I mean I know that this is all rather silly considering I'm an actor in a big budget film but I don't see why I can't be a part of that and relish the challenge of acting and being a part of that team working towards the final product. I don't like it when it crosses over to my private life too much, and sometime I feel television leads to that.
What are your ambitions and yor dreams?
Right now my immediate ambitions are to master the Arabic language and to be comfortable in my ability to speak it and succeed in my degree. In terms of dreams though I don't have anything specific because I know that a lot is going to change in my university time and I can't predict how I'm going to feel after four years.