Morocco has set the scene for many great movies, even though you might not have realised while you were watching. The destination is rarely the star of the show, and the same goes for some local personalities, as Intrepid’s Mandy Morrissey discovered…
“Ait Ben Haddou is a lovely old town in Morocco with a picturesque Kasbah dating back to the 700s. Although now only inhabited by a handful of families, the local Kasbah and Ait Ben Haddou have starred in a number of films in recent times, including The Mummy, Gladiator, Alexander, Kundun and classics such as Lawrence of Arabia and The Jewel of the Nile. But what made the town more interesting for us was getting a chance to meet ‘Action Couscous’.
The proprietor of a local restaurant and guesthouse (where many Intrepid groups stay) was one of the more fun and interesting characters that I’ve met on my travels. He goes by the nickname Action Couscous, because of the many films in which he’s appeared as an extra: “Action!”
Action loves being in front of a camera – any camera! He told us stories from his time as an extra – we hear he’s been in about 10 Hollywood films. He described how he was given make-up and a long beard for one film, unique costumes for another, and several other tales about life as a Hollywood Extra – Moroccan style.
Action also has starred prominently in some of the Intrepid brochures, and took great joy in showing us photos of himself in the various brochures, along with the odd news story written about him. He even made the cover of the Intrepid Middle East brochure one year and proudly posed holding the brochure, so we could all take photos of him holding a photo of himself.
In addition to being photogenic, Action was also fantastic because he gave us a cooking and spices demonstration (again, with lots of time for photos). He described the various spices used in Moroccan cooking, then turned the spotlight over to his more reserved sister for a cooking demonstration. Imagine my surprise to discover that the couscous-in-a-box we can make in 10 minutes (just add water!) actually takes more than two hours when made from scratch!
Our dinner that night was delicious, even more so because we knew about the work that went in to it, and experienced the joy of the family preparing it.
Action continued to make sure we had a good stay at his guesthouse and also made sure we got the farewell group photo in the morning. I’ll need to head to the video store now to see if I can catch Action in any of his films!”
Do you have special memory that put Morocco in the spotlight for you?