The People's Prince or Self-Promoting Phony?

David Zandi says he'd be a better "Prince of Persia" than A-list H'wood hunks.

January 08, 2009, 12:17 AM

March 26, 2008 — -- Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the most princely actor of all?

Orlando Bloom? Jonathan Rhys Meyers? Brad Pitt? No. If you believe a supposed "market research analysis" of 17 million movie-goers, it's David Zandi.

David who?

David Zandi is a 29-year-old Iranian-born Los Angeles transplant who claims to be a descendent of distant Persian royalty, works in movie production and has a handful of onscreen credits -- most notably, he played an alien in "Men in Black II."

By conventional standards, he lacks the box office punch and experience to star in Disney's upcoming "Prince of Persia: Sands of Time," an action adventure movie based on the ultra-popular video game.

But Zandi claims acting experience isn't necessary for him if he's chosen for the part.

"I'm very logical for this part because of the way that I was raised as a child, his personality, his mannerisms. It's something I could easily pull off," he told "It would be like playing myself. It would be an opportunity to play myself because of my ancestry."

According to an official-looking poll obtained by movie news service, Zandi is the peoples' choice to play the lead role in "Prince of Persia." Asked which of nine actors they would pick to play the prince based on their photos, close to 12 million of the 17 million voters chose Zandi, who with his dark hair and brooding eyes could be the digital hero's twin.

If the poll is to be believed, Zandi crushed the competition, blowing away hunks like Bloom, James McAvoy, Milo Ventimiglia and Zac Efron.

Zandi insists he had nothing to do with poll, despite the fact that four of the six questions in the survey relate directly to him. Like question No. 4: "If Disney hires David Zandi … what should he be paid as compensation?" The most popular answer was $2 million, a hell of a paycheck for an actor whose most memorable role entailed dressing up as a Martian and getting shot down by Will Smith.

According to Zandi, he only found out about the movie a few months ago, when he started getting e-mails from fans of the "Prince of Persia" video game eager to see the right actor chosen for the big screen. He also claimed to "have no idea" how they got his e-mail address.

Zandi said he received a copy of the poll sometime after the e-mails began arriving, but was never contacted by Disney, the studio releasing the movie and the parent company of ABC News, or Jerry Bruckheimer, its director.

Disney scoffed at the idea that Zandi was ever under consideration and suggested he's behind the campaign.

"There is absolutely no truth to this rumor," a Disney representative said. "The speculation is self created and has no origins with Walt Disney Pictures or Jerry Bruckheimer Films."

So where did the statistics showing Zandi as fans' top choice for the role come from? site administrator Robert Sanchez said he got the poll from an anonymous tipster who "asked that their identity not be revealed." Could the anonymous tipster also be a would-be movie star looking for some free PR? Again, Zandi claimed to have nothing to do with it.

And now, whether or not Disney wants him, Zandi said he's not going to campaign for the role. He's not going to post an audition tape on YouTube, he's not going to show up at Bruckheimer's house. He's convinced the studio and the director don't have fans' interests at heart and aren't concerned with depicting the "Prince of Persia" hero as accurately as possible. But if they were to offer him the part, well, that would be a different story.

"I will accept the role from Jerry Bruckheimer when he decides to meet the demands of the fans. I just want to give the fans what they want," Zandi said.

He just hopes that Disney and Bruckheimer don't pick the wrong guy for the role.

"When I look at this character, I see someone very strong, very confident. I don't mean to put anybody down, but Orlando Bloom comes across as a little weak, a little effeminate," he said.

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