The third episode of Netflix’s The Crown Season 5 introduces Egyptian-born film producer Dodi Fayed (played by Khalid Abdalla) on the set of the 1981’s Chariots of Fire. Thanks to billionaire father Mohamed Al-Fayed’s fortune, Dodi was able to finance the eventual Best Picture Oscar winner, but as The Crown portrays, he was really trying to make a name for himself. Though he would eventually do just that, his life was cut short when he and Princess Diana died in a tragic Paris car crash in 1997. Here’s a refresher on Dodi’s job beyond his contribution to Chariots of Fire.
In his younger years, he was stationed in London while serving as a junior officer in the United Arab Emirates air force. According to Today, Dodi enrolled at the British army’s Sandhurst Military Academy at age 19 and served as an attaché at the London embassy of the United Arab Emirates. However, he would soon leave his military career behind to work in the film industry.
Dodi reportedly became interested in entertainment when his friend Cubby Broccoli took him on a tour of a James Bond movie set in 1979. Soon afterward, he launched his company, Allied Stars, and produced Breaking Glass in 1980, followed immediately afterward by Chariots of Fire. In his 1982 Academy Awards Best Picture acceptance speech, Chariots of Fire producer David Puttnam thanked the Fayed family, saying that they “came through for us and put their money where my mouth is.”
However, some of his colleagues claimed that Mohamed — who owned London’s Harrods department store and still owns the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Paris, among other businesses — made most of the production-related decisions in the early years while Dodi lived lavishly off a hefty monthly allowance, per Vanity Fair. Regardless, Chariots of Fire’s unexpected success opened doors in Hollywood, and after visiting Beverly Hills for the 1982 Oscars ceremony, Dodi moved his company to Los Angeles.
Throughout his life, Dodi would go on to finance such other films as 1986’s F/X, 1991’s Hook, which starred Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman, as well as the Demi Moore and Gary Oldman-led adaptation of The Scarlet Letter in 1995. Outside of his successful movies, Dodi, who the Los Angeles Times described as a “multimillionaire playboy” in the 90s, was also famous for his jet-setting lifestyle and the lavish parties he hosted at his rented Beverly Hills mansion.
As most now know, Dodi and Princess Diana became romantically involved in the summer of 1997, causing the frenzy among overzealous paparazzi that reportedly contributed to the car crash that resulted in their deaths on Aug. 31, 1997. While reflecting on playing Dodi in The Crown Season 5, Abdalla opined that the film producer has “never really been mourned because he’s never really been known.” However, the series will certainly renew interest.