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Actor Mikhayiyl Sabbagh announced today that is he was leaving the popular Military caste comedy Ship’s Mess, after portraying the beloved Wesley “Wes” Wasem for eight seasons, serving longer than any of the cast aside from lead actor Mit Brightclaw. In his statement Sabbagh strongly dismissed rumors of a pay dispute, stating “I love working on Ship’s Mess, and have the utmost respect for all my friends on the cast and the producers. But eight years doing anything is enough, and I didn’t want to wear out Wes’ welcome.”
Sabbagh, one of the few wazagans regularly working the foxen entertainment industry, began his career is a character actor, where his stony features and larger than average build usually typecast him as heavies in productions on Wazaga and Human Prime. After about fifteen years of this he met his wife-to-be, foxen actress Fivah Fieldsmith, on the set of the wazagan serial drama Death by the Numbers. They married about a year later, and he moved with her back to Foxen Prime.
When Fieldsmith was cast as the perpetually furious Lt. Hardpaw on Ship’s Mess, she persuaded Sabbagh, who was having trouble breaking into the business on Foxen Prime, to take up the bit part of Wes, the stowaway wazagan living in the FNS Ice Lick’s galley cupboard.
“It was only supposed to be a one-off gag, and my grasp of the Mother Tongue back then was terrible, which is why all my dialog was garbled,” Sabbagh explains, with typical modesty. “But I got a lot of laughs, so they decided to keep me on.”
By the end of the season, Wes had emerged as one of the most popular characters of the long running series. Living in the galley cupboard (which was later revealed to be connected to the Admiral’s Quarters) and emerging occasionally to spout a nigh incomprehensible (and inevitably mistranslated) mixture of Arabic, English, and Southern Wazini at the rest of the cast, the character was an instant hit with both cubs and adults.
Though Wes did attract some controversy from critics for being a broad stereotype, Sabbagh defends his portrayal. “Everybody in the show was a stereotype,” he points out. “I had a blast playing Wes, and the rest of the cast always treated me with respect, on and off the set. That’s all I care about.”
With Fieldsmith’s departure from the show two seasons ago, Wes’ appearances have been infrequent, as Sabbagh returned to drama. Most recently he portrayed the Father of Night in the video adaptation of The Walls Between the Worlds, and on Light Street, appearing as Saber, in the acclaimed revival of Dockyard Stories.
As for what’s next for him, Sabbagh states, “I’m working on a period piece with Fivah, adapting The Visitors for the screen. We’re hoping to start a successful funding campaign next year, and start filming a few months after that.”
And would he consider playing Wes again, if the chance came up?
“Hey, so long as there’s room in the cupboard for me, I’ll be there.”