The Straits Times (Singapore)
February 4, 2009 Wednesday
LIFE! - LIFE MOVIES
Actor Michael Ealy on his 'freak' eye colour and what Sleeper Cell taught him about terrorism
When the terror attacks on the World Trade Center twin towers took place on Sept 11, 2001, actor Michael Ealy was taking a shower in his New York apartment.
Speaking from the Big Apple, the 35-year-old says he subsequently called his manager to find out if they were meeting for breakfast.
'He said, 'There has been an accident at the World Trade Center, I don't think we are going to meet today.' Part of me was happy because I
was going back to sleep.
'Then I thought, 'Well, let me check the news and see what happened' and literally, the second plane had just hit and I was like, whoa. I spent 10 hours glued to the news for the rest of the day,' he said.
Ealy would go on to play an undercover FBI agent in the terrorism drama series Sleeper Cell. The second and final season is currently airing every Friday at 10pm on FoxCrime, StarHub Channel 86.
Prior to the series, he admits: 'I was completely ignorant as to what terrorism really is. What I have learnt from the show is terrorism is not an Islamic problem, it is a political problem.
'But for some reason, the war on terror seems to be geared towards Islam and that seems to me to be misplaced energy because Islam does not support terrorism.'
On the show, Ealy plays Darwyn Al-Sayeed, an undercover agent who is also a Muslim.
'What really drew me to the role was the complexity of the character's fundamental dilemma. He is fighting a war on two fronts - the war that exists within Islam and the war on terror for his country. There is nothing boring about him,' he says.
The acting bug bit when he did a play at the age of 14.
'Now as I look back, I probably wanted something interesting to happen. A lot of people take on acting to escape the drama in their lives, I took on acting to add some drama,' he says with a chuckle.
His big break came in the comedy Barbershop (2002) in which he played a street thug trying to get back on the straight and narrow.
'It was my first major studio role in a film. The opening weekend and the premiere were eye-opening experiences. That was definitely a milestone in my career,' he says.
More recently, Ealy worked with Hollywood A-lister Will Smith on the drama Seven Pounds (2008).
Asked what it was like to work with Smith, he says: 'To be honest, it was quite normal. I had expectations of this grandiose production and him showing up on the set in a chariot or something like that. But he was just as regular as everybody else but he had a special trailer. He brought a great energy and he was just a joy to work with.'
Along with more high-profile roles, Ealy has also been attracting attention for his good looks, though he is ambivalent about being seen as a sex symbol.
'If it gets me more jobs, I will take it. I don't want to buy into it very much because my longevity in my career will come from the work that I do, not from my looks,' he says.
While he is currently single, Ealy, who was once linked to Oscar-winning beauty Halle Berry, says: 'I am definitely not lonely.'
So from whom did he get his striking blue eyes?
A hearty laugh erupts over the line. 'Both my parents have brown eyes but when they got together, it was blue-eye recessive. No one else has blue eyes in my family, it is kind of a freak of nature. My older sister has brown eyes and she is bitter.'
SLEEPER CELL Where: FoxCrime (StarHub Channel 86) When: Every Friday, 10pm
February 3, 2009