Jay Abdo has seen better days — once one of the Arab world's biggest stars, the actor now faces life as just any other refugee, made anonymous and displaced by the Syrian conflict, living on a minimum wage in a dead end job in the foreign land of Los Angeles.
This is a stark change to just a few years ago when the 54-year-old actor could not walk the streets in any Middle Eastern country without being mobbed by fans. The actor has an astonishing 43 movies and more than 1,000 TV episodes in his portfolio and was known for being outspoken in public.
Syrians know the star by his first name Jihad and he is most famous for his role in "Bab Al-Hara" ("The Neighborhood Gate"), one of the biggest soap operas in history, with a staggering 50 million viewers per episode.
In an unexpected turn of events, the unrest in Syria and the Arab Spring in 2011 pushed Abdo towards Hollywood.
Abdo caught his stateside big break when he landed his latest role alongside Nicole Kidman and James Franco in "Queen of the Desert," a biopic by Werner Herzog of British archaeologist Gertrude Bell, due for release in spring.
"All my scenes were with Nicole," Abdo says. "I can't praise her enough. She's very sweet, extremely professional, a very good hearted woman — very smart and sharp. Above all, she supported me from the first minute."
Maybe there is a happy ending in store for Jihad 'Jay' Abdo after all.
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