Picks and Pans Review: Newcomer of the Week! Haaz Sleiman Makes Sweet Music in Hollywood

updated 04/21/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/21/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

• The former singer, 31, is drumming up buzz as a Syrian djembe player in The Visitor.

YOU GREW UP IN LEBANON. WHAT WAS IT LIKE COMING TO THE U.S.? I [first] moved to Michigan. Beirut is such a happening city, so Dearborn was like a village to me. I loved the drive-in theaters, but after I got my B.S. in computer science to please the family, I couldn't wait to go to New York.

HAD YOU EVER PLAYED THE DRUMS BEFORE THE FILM? I never drummed in my life, but I bought a really nice, expensive djembe, an African drum. I don't touch it because I'm afraid to ruin it! Plus, I think the cops have already come way too often to my house when I was practicing every day [for the film]. Now I have to play it cool. I don't want to be deported!

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