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Omar Sy – French Black Movie Icon?

Omar Sy - French Black Movie Icon?

Courtesy of Africa Is A Coutry, penned by French novelist, essayist, academic Abdourahman Waberi:

Released only a week ago, ‘Intouchables’ the film (by Eric Toledano & Olivier Nakache, France, length: 1h52min) is having the most amazing success in France since Harry Potter hit. Supported by a duo of fantastic actors: François Cluzet playing Philippe (a billionnaire paralyzed in a wheelchair) and Omar Sy as Driss (his young out-of-the banlieue black help)… Omar Sy (with his stand up comedy partner Fred) was discovered by the Canal Plus cable channel, just like the actor and humorist Jamel Debbouze. Omar Sy, Jamel Debbouze, rapper La Fouine and Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka all have one thing in common: they were born and raised at Trappes, a poor city not far from Versailles. Big Omar (he’s 6.3 feet and even richer in talent and funnier) is rumoured to get a César Award for Best Actor in February 2012. And France will surely boast of at least one Black movie icon.

And if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll be familiar with the film he mentions (Intouchables) which I’ve written about several times on S&A. The film, which is said to be based on a “funny and moving” true story, centers on the relationship between a wealthy white aristocrat who becomes a quadriplegic after a paragliding accident, and the young “street-tough” black man he hires to take care of him. 

As already noted, Omar Sy co-stars (as the street-tough black man), and the film, released earlier this month in France, has become quite the box office smash there.

The Weinstein Company acquired American remake rights to it; though no word on when/if a Hollywood version will happen, nor who will star.

It’s based on a real-life story, by the way. But it looks like our man Omar Sy could be on his way (especially with a potential Best Actor Ceasar Award the French equivalent of the Oscars), so don’t be surprised if he heads west to Hollywood.

And France will boast of at least one black movie icon.

Big words. I hope the French version of film plays in the states, if only so we can see Omar Cy’s performance first-hand. The Weinstein Company purchased stateside release rights as well, so we just might get to see it.

Omar Sy is a name that is likely foreign to most on this side of the pond, though the 33-year-old Frenchman has been active as an actor in France since the year 2000. While Intouchables just may be his highest profiles role and project to date, some may recognize him from Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s 2009 comedy crime caper Micmacs, which was released in theaters stateside, though limited.

He has a couple of upcoming new French movie projects, though I suspect if Intouchables is a traveling success as it has been thus far, thanks to the Weinsteins, we might be talking about him on this side of the pond sooner than later.

Watch the first full-length trailer below, which is in French, without subtitles. Sorry… though I think the images tell the tale. I should note that I expected it to be a straight drama; this promises something more comedic than grave:

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Geneva Girl

I'm looking forward to seeing it here in GVA.


Omar Sy is a very good comedian who has managed to become a great actor even though he has only played in mediocre films (Micmacs was well directed, but the control freak Jeunet wasn't able to get nearly as much from his actors as he could have).

Even Intouchables is just another instalment in Toledano & Nakache series of feel good movies that make a little fun of everyone but end up reminding you that "everybody's loveable after all", which is tiring for anyone above the age of 7.

My hopes are that Sy will very soon start acting for really good comedy directors, although there aren't so many anymore in France…


I remember seeing him in MicMacs. Jean Pierre Jeunet is an extraordinary director.(Well with the exception of his installment of the Aliens series.) Omar played a very humorous role in Micmacs. He certainly seems to have comedic ability.

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