SXSW Interview – Leem Lubany – Condor
While at SXSW, I had the opportunity of sitting down with Leem Lubany, who plays Joubert in Condor, the television series remake of Three Days of the Condor (1975). Joubert was played by Max von Sydow in the film and is considered an iconic role. Condor sets itself apart from the film by changing the gender of Joubert. Condor airs on the AT&T Audience Network on Wednesday nights.
Sarah: You are taking on the role of Joubert, the one that was made famous by Max von Sydow, which is a huge undertaking because it is such an iconic role. What was it like to be the female Joubert?
Leem: If you watch the film and you watch the TV show, they are totally different characters. Joubert is a fairly unique character and it can be done in so many ways. The thing about Joubert is that when you look at it, when you see her in the TV show, you feel like it’s supposed to be a man. This is a man’s job, and she’s so good, and then we see her as an amazing, strong, beautiful woman who is excellent at her job and has amazing skills. If you want a job to be done, you go to Joubert. She is more active than Max von Sydow’s character in the film. He has more of the upper hand, moving things around, and he’s ordering what to do, and then you see him once in a while coming out of the shadows and doing things, but mine, you see her every single time and she is doing the job in a brutal way to be honest. She is relentless. To be honest, if I try to compare myself with Max Van Sydow, I will go nuts. I just try to focus on the project and this character and let’s do this. I try to not think about that aspect because it won’t help me.
Sarah: You have to separate the two. How many times did you watch the film?
Leem: I watched it about three times. Normally, I don’t like to watch a film that I know that my character has been done before because it kind of sticks in my mind and I don’t want to do it again the same way. The thing is that no matter how many times I watch it, I can never relate to it. It’s not the same character, and it was not played by a female, so I just do it however I want or how I see fit. I had the idea of Joubert and made more and more for the show.
Sarah: It was you in the SUV at the beginning of the episode, correct?
Sarah: Okay, that was quite an entrance into a series. You don’t say very much, you get out of the car, and slit his throat. Is that the best entrance you have had as an actress so far?
Leem: I have never done a TV show, and I have never done an action…I’ve never been this kind of kick-ass, badass role, so it was all new to me. When I first read the intro, I was like, “Okay, that’s horrible!” But then again, that’s who she is. You don’t know why she is doing it and how she can be so calm and so focused. She kills the man and gets back in the car like nothing happened like she swatted a fly. You see her in the whole TV show doing awful things, and I wouldn’t be shocked if some people want to connect with her or hate her at certain points. She never tells you why. You know nothing about her background or who she is, and that’s the mystery and the beauty of Joubert. Towards the end, you will get a few hints, and you might like her a bit, as well.
Sarah: In the time of #MeToo and feminism, what was it like to use your sexuality as a tool for your character?
Leem: It was a plus for me. The character, they did not portray her as a sexy spy-woman. They didn’t portray her as a woman who gets in and shoots everyone in beautiful, sexy way, and she gets out of it unscathed. Joubert is good at her job. Look, I had a few outfits. She is not about wearing anything sexy or trying to be sexy or killing someone in a sexy way. She is really good.
Sarah: But she uses it as a tool when she knows she can.
Leem: Everyone in that room knows that Joubert is the best. You can have twenty people in front of you, and if you want someone to kill them all in one second, you tell Joubert to do that, not someone else. The way they portrayed her as such a strong woman, I was really excited to be her. Because nowadays in our industry, there are so many kick-ass female roles and I am so happy that I am one of them now. It’s like a gender-bending character, and she is phenomenal.
Sarah: What was it like working with the cast? What about Brendan Fraser?
Leem: Well, unfortunately…
Sarah: Is that scene the only one you had with him?
Leem: Yes, I only had one scene with him. For that scene, we were in Jordan for a day in the desert.
Leem: Jordan, yeah.
Sarah: I wouldn’t even think that. It just looks like they did it in the US somewhere.
Leem: Yeah, after we finished everything, we went to Jordan. We shot this one scene, and that is the only time I met him and actually had a scene with him. From that time, he is such a fantastic guy and such an interesting guy as well, and so funny. We had a blast on set in the heat of the desert, taking turns in the A/C and relaxing a bit, but that was the only time I had with him, but from that time, I can assume if I had more, I would’ve enjoyed it.
Sarah: I’ve only seen the first two episodes, so who did you interact with the most?
Leem: Joubert is all around. She meets almost everyone in a certain situation, almost, and they are not beautiful situations. The first few episodes, you see her with Deacon (Angel Bonnani), her partner in crime, but I had a lot of scenes with Deacon. But yeah, I meet a lot of them and have different bits with them. I hung out with the cast members off set, so for me, it was a continuous experience. So when I was on set, and I acted with him, Max Irons, a few times, during the whole thing, you only see us together in the same room a few times. But since we hung out together off set, it just makes me feel like…when someone asks me about playing alongside him, I also think of the off set.
Sarah: So, what was it like working with Max Irons since you are with him…
Leem: Some. He’s such a great guy. It was really hard for me to be honest because I liked him so much…
Sarah: You have to be such an ass to him.
Leem: Exactly. I have to be an ass to him. Off camera, he is such a great guy, and we had so much fun. I had a love scene with him, and it was so comfortable doing it with him. I couldn’t ask for a better partner to do it with. Everyone was great, to be honest, every one of the cast and crew members, they were phenomenal.