Haaz Sleiman Biography


Home > Actors > S > Sleiman, Haaz > Biography


Birth Name: Haaz Sleiman
Birth Place: Lebanon


Born in Lebanon, Sleiman's path to the United States was remarkably similar to that of his character Tarek in "The Visitor." He also moved from the Middle East to Michigan and later to New York to pursue musical aspirations, though Sleiman's true talent was singing. He eventually found work as an actor, and earned his earliest exposure as a soldier in the off-Broadway play "The Joys of Lipstick" (2003), about an Iranian family who attempts to retain their cultural heritage in the United States. A year later, Sleiman made his feature debut in the gay-themed comedy "The Ski Trip" (2004) as a muscle-bound hustler who becomes part of a hectic weekend getaway.

The year 2006 proved to be a watershed one for Sleiman, with appearances in popular series like "ER" (NBC, 1994-2009) and a recurring role as an Arab billionaire under investigation on the short-lived CBS drama "Company Town" (2006). Sleiman also appeared briefly as a militant leader in the broad theatrical comedy "American Dreamz" (2006). His good fortune continued in 2007 with voice-over work in the award-winning Ubisoft game, "Assassin's Creed;" repeat guest shots on "24" (Fox, 2001- ) and supporting turns on "Veronica Mars" (UPN/The CW, 2004-2007) and "NCIS" (CBS, 2003- ). Moviegoers also saw him in several indie features, including "AmericanEast" (2007), which cast him as an angry customer at a restaurant owned by Middle Easterner Sayed Badreya and his Jewish partner Tony Shalhoub, as well as in "Futbaall: The Price of Dreams" (2007) as a hit man. But it was his performance in Tom McCarthy's "The Visitor" that truly catapulted Sleiman into the public eye.

To prepare to play Tarek, he learned to play the djembe by rehearsing for three hours a day, and joined McCarthy and Jenkins on a visit to a real detainee center, which served as the model for the one seen in the film. Sleiman also drew particular inspiration from the African musician and folk hero Fela Kuti in the scene where Tarek is seen rehearsing while clad only in a pair of briefs. But it was his heartfelt performance as an innocent caught up in the legal nightmare of immigration and deportation that earned the deepest praise from critics and audiences alike, as well as a 2009 Independent Spirit Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor.




Browse More Actors:
# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z