ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Ben Youcef is watching the sun set in Santa Monica, Calif.
It’s something he tries to do any chance he gets.
“These are the wonderful things we have to take in life,” he says. “It’s beautiful scenery.”
Youcef is an up-and-coming actor who has a role in the film, “From the Rough.”
The true story follows Catana Starks, played by Taraji P. Henson, who became the first African American woman ever to coach an all-men’s team at the collegiate level.
Youcef touches hearts playing the role of Bassam, one of the main students of Stark’s team.
“We really became a family while we were shooting,” he says. “The golf team that she coached had players from all over the world. Each one of us was also from a different place. It was interesting to see how we all grew together.”
The film also stars Tom Felton, Justin Chon, Henry Simmons, James Saito. It was also Michael Clarke Duncan’s last movie before he passed away in 2012.
Youcef says what drew him to the film was the story.
“This coach took these misfit boys with issues and managed to find the balance,” he says. “They ended up winning a championship which is an amazing thing for the team and the coach.”
Youcef’s character is Algerian French and grew up with a lot of discrimination.
“He resolves issues with fighting,” he says. “He does so that he almost gets kicked out of a tournament. She fought for him and gives him a second chance.”
The film was shot in October 2012 in New Orleans and Youcef says the entire cast stayed at the same hotel.
“I worked out with Michael Clarke Duncan,” he says. “He was like a big brother to me while I was on the set.”
Youcef is currently working on the action thriller, “The Algerian,” which he is writing, producing and starring in.
The film follows Ali, played by Youcef, across the world from Algeria to New York, Las Vegas to Los Angeles as the political thriller reveals an international plot from the colliding worlds of the Middle East and America.
Youcef says working on “The Algerian,” is the first project that he’s started from beginning to end.
“It’s based on people from my life and my imagination,” he says. “The main character is a fish out of water and looking for his place.”
The film got accepted into the New York Film Festival and also a film festival in Montreal.
“This festival circuit is really new to me,” he says. “I’m having fun with it all. It’s like having a baby and letting the movie take on a life of its own. It’s very special.”
Youcef was born in Algeria and educated in London, Austin and New York.
Before he began acting, he modeled for Gucci and DKNY as well as other designers.
He was also a top-ranked junior tennis player in Algeria.
“This is what I did as a child,” he says. “But I always wanted to move in a different direction.”
He says while modeling, there was always a part of him that wanted to act.
“The beauty about acting is that it gives you a space to totally put yourself into someone else’s shoes,” he says. “You get to portray all different types of characters and create some magic within the roles.”
Now that Youcef has his first film as a writer and producer behind him, he wants to do more films.
He says looking in New Mexico is one of the options he’d like to seek out on a future project.
“I’ve watched movies like ‘No Country for Old Men’ and ‘Lone Survivor,’ ” he says. “Those movies captured my attention and were so well done. I would be honored to find a project that would bring me to New Mexico. There’s so much beauty out there, it would be amazing to do a film there.”