Fares Fares: ‘Everyone’s been longing for Soho House Stockholm’
Soho House member and Sweden’s coolest actor gives you a personal guide to our newest opening, skål!
Friday 23 December 2022 By Hanna Flint Photography by Elisabeth Toll Styling by Anna Sundelin Hair and grooming by Martin Sundqvist Production by Blissed
Fares Fares knows his way around a Soho House or two. The Lebanese-born Swedish actor, writer and director has become accustomed to the various chic and cheerful locations thanks to an acting career – boasting credits in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Westworld and Cannes Film Festival darling, Boy From Heaven – that continues to inspire casting directors to hire him across the globe. ‘I’ve been to Soho House Istanbul, New York, Malibu and LA,’ Fares enthuses to me over Zoom. ‘I was once filming in Hamburg and I needed time off, so I went to Berlin to be by myself, walk around the city and check it out. I stayed at the House and had a great weekend. It was a good vibe.’
Above: Coat, Gant; shirt, vest and trousers, all CDLP; glasses, Private.
Now the vibes have arrived on his home turf in Sweden with the opening of Soho House Stockholm. Located in a converted church on Majorsgatan, near Östermalms Saluhall, you might just catch him sipping a spicy Margarita with friends, having ‘a heavy red for dinner’ with his artist wife Clara Hallencreutz, or soaking up the creative energy as he brainstorms ideas for his next screenplay. ‘It’s a beautiful House in an old church and being in the room is incredible – everybody’s been longing for it,’ says Fares, already a valued member who is looking forward to getting to know the new guard of Sweden’s creative force. ‘There is a big community of creative people and I’m excited to meet the next generation. I've been doing this for 20 years or so and you can stay in your bubble. I want to meet the ones that have just started out, listen to how they think and what they bring to everything. It’s a nice feeling, being even more included.’
Blazer, AW Bauer & Co; shirt, Our Legacy; glasses, Private; ring, H&M
Coat, Stand Studio; shirt, Oscar Jacobson; trousers, Schnayderman’s; boots, Lundhags; glasses, H&M
Inclusion hasn’t always been easy for actors of Fares’ background. He and his family are Lebanese of Assyrian descent, but escaped Beirut during the Lebanon War to Sweden when he was 14. Fares has felt ‘so Swedish’ ever since, but he’s cognisant of the roles he and his Middle Eastern peers can often be saddled with, and feel othered by, in order to make a living in a filmmaking industry that still perpetuates archaic stereotypes.
‘For roles, it’s about patience,’ he says. ‘I’ve never wanted to play that stereotypical guy, ever. I don’t do it in Sweden, and even in my career abroad I told my agents that I'm not interested in being cast as someone from the Middle East just because I am from the Middle East. So, if you’re going to come to me to cast a Middle Eastern guy who is 70 years old, fat and bald, a one-tone guy like a terrorist or anything like that, I’m not interested. If it’s an interesting part and the character happens to be from the Middle East, that’s a different story.’
His first leading role was playing a character that fit those parameters in his brother Josef Fares’ debut feature Jalla! Jalla! The 2000 cross-cultural comedy centres on Roro, a park attendant who wants to marry his Swedish girlfriend, but his Lebanese family have made other plans for him. Namely, to marry him off to another Lebanese girl to prevent her from being sent back to their homeland. The story is close to home, not least because the family affair played out on screen and off with the brothers working with their dad Jan Fares, who plays Roro’s father. As Fares tells it, cinema has been a family passion long before making films was a feasible option. ‘When we were in Lebanon, my father always came home every day from work with rented films to play on our VHS player, which not everyone had,’ he recalls of his early movie-watching. ‘Dad was a baker, but had he had different opportunities in Lebanon. He might have been doing cinema because he’s a natural talent as an actor,’ he says.
Coat, Hugo Boss; shirt, Séfr; trousers and scarf (just seen), both Oscar Jacobson; boots, Lundhags; ring, Thomas Sabo; necklace, Poets of Babylon
‘When we moved to Sweden, I met someone who was speaking about a theatre group and I got hooked,’ Fares continues. ‘So, I started with the theatre, and then five years later my brother began playing around with a little VHS camera with his friends and making films. He used us in his films. Maybe it’s in our DNA. We just happen to love the profession.’
But comedy was never truly where Fares’ interests lay and his gritty career filled with crime thrillers like the Swedish series Partisan, which he co-wrote, and American political drama series Tyrant, proves just that. ‘I guess it goes more with my personality,’ he says. ‘I'm a bit more low-key than my brother and I want to continue with this thriller drama stuff, because it’s more interesting to dig into.’
Suit, Gant; shirt, CDLP; slippers, Oas Company; glasses, Private
Fares has played a CIA agent in Zero Dark Thirty, a Rebel Alliance senator in Rogue One and a Watson-esque partner of a cold-case cop in the hit Danish Department Q film series. A police officer might be the role Fares has been most typecast in; he successfully reunited with Swedish-Egyptian filmmaker Tarik Saleh, after 2017’s The Nile Hilton Incident to play another cop embroiled in a conspiracy at Cairo’s prestigious Al-Azhar University in Boy From Heaven, which was awarded Best Screenplay and the François Chalais Prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
He’s also made his directorial debut with Swedish thriller A Day And A Half for Netflix, in which he plays an officer tracking down a man who’s taken his ex-wife hostage to reunite with their daughter during a sweltering Swedish summer. ‘It was inspired by something that I saw on the news,’ he says. ‘We shot it, I’ve finished editing and now it’s in the sound edit.’ But Fares has no plans to solely go behind the camera. ‘I'm not going to quit acting at all, I just want to become even more selective with what I do.’
Blazer, Schnayderman’s; shirt, Gant; glasses, Private
Blazer, Schnayderman’s; shirt, Séfr; scarf (just seen), Oscar Jacobson; glasses, Private; necklace, Poets of Babylon
The actor has so many roles under his belt right now: loving husband and father of two boys; celebrated actor, rising star writer-director and Founder member of one of the hottest new private venues in Europe. But there’s one role he likes to play that not too many people know much about and he’s ready to go public. ‘My big passion in life is I’m a dungeon master in Dungeons and Dragons,’ he exclaims in reference to the role-playing tabletop game that’s been around since 1974. ‘I have my little group and we play every other Monday. There’s a lot of preparation. I do the maps and the dungeon draft. When I was in the editing room during A Day And A Half, I was painting miniatures while my editor was doing the editing. The only thing that I have time for other than work and family is Dungeons and Dragons.’
While Fares laments the missed opportunity to star in the latest big-screen adaptation of the game led by his co-star in The Contractor, Chris Pine (‘I wish he told me!’), he hopes the newfound hype sparked by the upcoming film and the latest season of Stranger Things will inspire some nerdy conversations when he visits Soho House Stockholm. ‘Maybe I can start a little House table,’ he chuckles. ‘I love talking about it, but most people don’t know much about it or what it is.’
The campaign starts now.
To apply for membership at Soho House Stockholm, click here.