'Moon Knight': May Calamawy Talks Layla El-Faouly and Fan Theories About Her Character (Exclusive)

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Moon Knight's second episode finds Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac) frantically trying to unravel the mysteries of his other identity, Marc Spector, and his vengeful, masked alter ego. However, as the bumbling, newly fired British Museum worker tries to piece together what he's learned about the dangers he's suddenly facing, he comes across far more questions than answers. 

The confusion is only compounded by the introduction of Layla El-Faouly (May Calamawy), an archaeologist and adventurer, who -- as Steven finds out when she pleads with him to sign their divorce papers -- is also Marc's wife.

Layla initially doesn't believe Steven when he protests that he's not actually the husband she's looking for. However, as they work together to investigate Arthur Harrow's plan to resurrect the Egyptian god Ammit, Steven's sensitive personality and love for poetry and art help her to see the split between the two personas -- or, at least, to understand part of the "awkward, complex situation" she's been pulled into.

"I love how strong she is, but at the same time, I feel like I got to play the full gamut of a woman with her," Calamawy said of her character. "She's strong and she's for the people and fights for what she believes, but she's also really vulnerable and scared. So that was fun for me."

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While Layla El-Faouly doesn't appear by that exact name in the Marvel Comics canon, there are several characters with related names or similar characteristics that fans have speculated she may be based on or adapted from. While so much is still under wraps, for Calamawy, as a performer, she said getting to do the show's stunts and fight choreography are what helped her to "find" the character.

"At first, when you're playing a woman and you want to play an empowered woman, we get confused. We're like, 'What is a woman?' If she's strong and if she fights, then she must look like this kind of person," the actress observed. "But at the same time, I'm a really vulnerable person. And all I can do is kind of bring myself to something as well. I thought it was important. And I realized, I want to play someone who is all of those things, vulnerable and a fighter and a very intelligent, assertive person. Just the balance of both."

Calamawy said it was easy to fall into the show's mythology, however, once she stepped foot on the stunning sets. As viewers saw at the end of episode 2, Harrow's plan leads Steven/Marc and Layla to Egypt where he plans to resurrect Ammit to judge the good and evil within the world's population.

"I think it's really important that when it comes to representation, to do it very authentically," said the Bahrain-born actress, whose father is Egyptian. "And there's no better person to do that than [executive producer] Mohamed Diab, who loves Egypt more than anyone I know. He really focuses on the nuances and the specificity."

"The sets were so epic that I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I can't believe we get to work [here]," she recalled. "We were given the space and these sets to work off of, what a testament to the set designer who puts so much of her love into it. It makes you only want to give back that much."

At the end of episode 2, fans learn one of the reasons Marc is so dead set on protecting Layla and keeping her at arm's length -- and something that will almost certainly cause the pair trouble down the line -- Khonshu has his sights on her as his next human avatar.

"She's not really into that," Calamawy said cryptically, when asked if her character might become an Egyptian god's avatar at some point. "She doesn't think it's a fair bargain."

Layla, as viewers will find out, "goes on her own journey, while assisting Marc," the actress explained.

"She starts to trust herself more and stand more in herself," she added. "And I think we see that and to see her be fully empowered and trust herself, whether something is the right or wrong thing to do, I just want to see her follow that even more."

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And speaking of those fan theories about her character -- some of which have pointed toward Marvel characters like Layla Miller, aka The Butterfly, or the Scarlet Scarab, who uses the power of an ancient artifact to protect Egyptian treasures -- Calamawy may be a Marvel newcomer, but she already knows how to play perfectly coy when it comes to the series' closely guarded secrets. 

"They're all interesting and really exciting," she said of the theories. "And if it was one of them, it would be really cool. But I can't say."

New episodes of Moon Knight stream Wednesdays on Disney+. See more on the series in the video below.


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How to Watch Marvel’s New Series ‘Moon Knight’ Online

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