Michael Cassidy Talks About Respect In Heritage, Religion And Customs in Breaking Fast [Exclusive Interview]

Michael Cassidy plays the love interest in the new film Breaking Fast. Cassidy brings a humble character that appreciates new cultures and family traditions. Breaking Fast is a film written and directed by Mike Mosallam.


The Synopsis

Set against the twinkling lights of West Hollywood, Breaking Fast is a romantic comedy that follows Mo (Haaz Sleiman, The Visitors), a practicing Muslim still reeling from heartbreak. When an All-­American guy named Kal (Micheal Cassidy, Zoom) offers to join him in his nightly Iftars­­ –the traditional meal eaten by Muslims during Ramadan­­– meal after meal, the two start to discover they have more in common than meets the eye.

I had the opportunity to speak with Michael Cassidy about the Breaking Fast. He shared his reason’s to wanting to be a part of this story and and the fun it was during filming. Cassidy spoke about the admiration he has for his fellow castmates and more.

Nancy Tapia: It is very exciting to speak to you about Breaking Fast. It must be exciting to start the new year with a film.

Michael Cassidy: I love this movie so much. I love talking about it.

Nancy Tapia: Can you talk about your favorite scene in the film?

Michael Cassidy: Oh yeah, absolutely. I don’t know. It was such a whirlwind. We shot it all in two and a half weeks. Probably the dinner scene. The dinner scene with Mo (Haaz Sleimna) and my character, Kal and Sam (Amin El Gamal) and John (Christopher J. Hanke), was the most compelling to me on the page. It was the thing that, I felt like it really unites all of the intersectionality that the film is trying to, not really tip-toe around, but play in all the different sandboxes in the film blended so well. By that time, I really looked up to all the actors that are working, that I couldn’t wait to watch them work. So, that was probably my favorite.

Breaking Fast
L to R: Haaz Sleiman as Mo and Michael Cassidy as Kal in Breaking Fast. Dir. Mike Mosallam.

Nancy Tapia: I agree. That was actually one of my two favorite scenes. I got to speak to Mike Mosallam (writer and director) and I told them the same thing. I feel like that’s one of the scenes that’s the most important in the film. It’s open to conversation.

Michael Cassidy: Yeah. This film, I was just saying to somebody, it’s so fun to play because it’s ultimately just very simply a romantic comedy. It’s like Mike says, he wanted to write a Julia Roberts romantic comedy, like the ones that he grew up watching that he loved. But if the Julia Roberts character was played by an Arab gay Muslim man. So it reads like that. It reads like a really fun, romantic comedy with jokes and best friends and all the things that those have. And then at the same time, there’s just this undercurrent of different identities and different cultural connections and different religious connections. People can connect and have intimacy, not just romantic intimacy, but friendship intimacy, regardless of differences. Regardless of, in some cases, very big differences.

Nancy Tapia: I loved your character, Kal with a K haha…

Michael Cassidy: Haha…Thank you.

Nancy Tapia: One of the things that I enjoyed about your character is that his personality is open to other cultures and traditions. Also appreciates those traditions, family, history, the foods. Very open-minded. I feel like those characters are very appreciative for those that are not Americans, if that makes sense.

Michael Cassidy: Yeah, it does. I also appreciated that about Kal, and I recognized that I could portray someone like that, despite being an American. I heard someone say recently, I can’t remember who it was but, travel is such a humbling thing. I’ve been so fortunate to be able to travel, to see different cultures and different ways that people live in different places. Nowhere spectacular, but just a few places. That is something that I share with Kal. Kal grew up in Jordan and he grew up in army bases, and I imagine he spent time in Germany because there’s a huge American military presence in Germany and these places. So he, I think, comes into his adult life and into his relationship with Mo with, like you said, a respect for his heritage and his religion and customs.

Also an appreciation for the fact that diversity ultimately enriches your life. There’s no negative cost to diversity or to ultimately connecting. Hey, one of the things that Kal connects to Mo about is, their shared discomfort and secrets or bruises that they have on their personalities.

Breaking Fast
L to R: Haaz Sleiman as Mo and Michael Cassidy as Kal in Breaking Fast. Dir. Mike Mosallam.

Nancy Tapia: That’s right, I have to ask, how did it feel to come in and play a gay man? Did you feel a little intimidated? Did it push you to challenge yourself? I admire the fact that you’re comfortable to get out of that comfort zone.

Michael Cassidy: Yeah. No, I wasn’t really uncomfortable with it. The thing that I always say is, I’ve personally never had a romantic relationship with someone that I’ve worked with, who has been a romantic interest. So it’s not any different for me to work with someone who I’m not in a relationship with, whether they’re a man or a woman. The thing that I connected to about this piece is ultimately that I understood the character first and foremost. Secondarily, I felt that I could tell the story of the character in a meaningful way that was expansive and interesting.

I connected to Mike Mosallam, the writer-director in a really powerful way. Then thirdly, that ultimately when this was a finished piece of art, it was in the world and meaningful to people. Even if I don’t know who it will be, and this will be checked off all those boxes very quickly.

So, that’s where I connect and the older I get the less I think of myself as being straight, and the more I think of myself as being a person.

Nancy Tapia: Another scene I enjoyed was the squat down with me scene. I was cracking up laughing by myself when I was watching the screen. Can you tell me about filming that scene? Haha…

Michael Cassidy: Haha…he was naked, real life, absolutely. Haaz is so funny, and he has such an explosiveness in that scene. When he’s funny, he is explosive. So when he’s shouting at me and when we’re embracing, so much of what I do in this film when I watch it back is, I just allow myself to fall in love with Haaz as the performer, because he’s so lovable. He’s such a wonderful leading man and the character is so lovable and he accepts himself in ways that are not like we understand, or that we see very often. And then he doesn’t accept this stuff in ways that we feel like could be easy. He’s just a wonderfully funny, flawed person. Anyway, that’s a long way of saying that in that scene, I’m just laughing at him and falling in love with him.

Nancy Tapia: Yeah. I mean, good thing that the camera wasn’t really shooting at your face and it was his face, because I’m sure you were having a ball, haha…

Michael Cassidy: Yeah. No, we’re having a good time. Haaz is such a pro that I’m sure when the camera was on my face, he was doing even stranger, funnier things, that just worked really well with the story.

Breaking Fast

Also Check Out: Mike Mosallam Makes His Directorial Debut With Breaking Fast [Exclusive Interview]

Nancy Tapia: When I spoke to Mike, he shared that when I came to you, one of the signs was the fact that you played Jimmy Olsen for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, because it has the Superman references in the movie and The Sound of Music.

Michael Cassidy: Yeah. Mike, I mean, I did the film, I loved working on Batman v Superman. It’s an honor to be existing in the DC Universe with a character of renown. At the same time, I have to say, Mike is more excited than me about it. He’s very excited about that and it was very touching. When I met him we Skype, because I was out of town, and we Skyped to talk about whether or not he would let me do the movie. And he really wanted to talk about Superman, for sure. He loves Superman haha…

Nancy Tapia: So I think you probably got the Superman references. Did you also get the once for The Sound of Music?

Michael Cassidy: Oh, absolutely. The Sound of Music is probably in my top six. I mean, I like The Sound of Music more than I liked the first couple of Superman movies.

Nancy Tapia: Really?

Michael Cassidy: Oh yeah. The Sound of Music is like, that’s my jam. Mike and I, we met each other and we talked on Skype and then I got the job and then we started rehearsing and, all I want to do is sing with Mike and so on, in real life. I don’t know how to talk about comic books or comic book movies with him.

Nancy Tapia: Me too! I only understood The Sound of Music references.  No clue on Superman.

Michael Cassidy: Oh yeah. One of my favorite things about Mo is the meaningfulness of the Mother Superior. That is so Mike. First of all, if you were hanging out with Mike, he’d be quoting deranged fringe characters of musicals for sure. Then, walking over to the piano and just playing them on demand. Mike is magic.

Nancy Tapia: Haha…it sounds like he’s a fun guy to work with.

Michael Cassidy: Yes.

Michael Cassidy: Oh my God. I love this question. It is at one second horribly uncomfortable because I’m thinking of trying to register that I am acting, that I’m not behaving authentically. At the same time, every time I do that, if it feels like my real acting, then I feel like somebody is just dragging their nails across a chalkboard, if you know what I mean?

I’m like, God, if I do what I think is good in my acting for this acting, then maybe I’m not a good actor. It’s like a horrible vortex that fills in on itself of self-judgment. But I think it comes across really well in the film, but it’s uncomfortable and really interesting at the same time. Ultimately, a lot of the stuff that I try to borrow in the actor-acting scene, is the stuff that I’m trying to get away from in my acting at the moment. I’m just trying to have a conversation or just trying to fall in love or whatever it is. But, it’s fun to bring that stuff up. It’s just very uncomfortable.

Breaking Fast
L to R: Haaz Sleiman as Mo and Michael Cassidy as Kal in Breaking Fast. Dir. Mike Mosallam.

Nancy Tapia: That was a fun scene and Mo, trying to act with Kal. That’s was hilarious, haha…

Michael Cassidy: Yeah. I agree haha…

Nancy Tapia: Well, we got to wrap up. So if you don’t mind me asking, is there anything you can share that we’ll be seeing you or you’ll be working on this year?

Michael Cassidy: Yeah. I am fortunate to have a bunch of things. So this film comes out Friday, January 22nd, as you know. Then, I have a handful of episodes in the new show on the Spotify network called Resident Alien. That’s going to start airing on January 27th. My episodes are a little bit further into the season. And that’s a cool show that’s completely different from this.

Then I snuck into Zack Snyder‘s new film for Netflix, and I can’t really think of anything beyond that, but I have a cool, small part in that. And yeah, those are the things off the top of my head.

Nancy Tapia: Well, it sounds like you’re going to have a great year. And starting with a bang with Breaking Fast.

Michael Cassidy: Yes, absolutely. I hope it is a great year and I hope people really enjoy this film because I loved making it. I’m really proud of the way it turned out.

Nancy Tapia: Yes. I think people are going to appreciate it. I feel like it’s one of those films that’s for everybody. Like I told Mike, one of the things I got from this film is that, it’s not just about religion or being gay. It’s also about breaking patterns and getting out of that merry-go-round, that people expect you to follow.

Michael Cassidy: Yeah. I completely agree. That’s a meaningful part of it. I mean, this is the movie that I read and I was like, I hope they cast me. But if they don’t, I hope that a lot of people see this film, because it is so meaningful and powerful.

Nancy Tapia: Yes. It’s definitely for everybody.

Michael Cassidy: Yeah. I agree.

Nancy Tapia: Well, thank you so much for your time and congratulations and good luck with all your projects that you have this year. Other than that, it’s a wrap.

Michael Cassidy: Thank you, Nancy.

Breaking Fast will now available on VOD today!

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