Omar Sy
Marion Curtis/Starpix
Why He's On Our Radar: French actor Omar Sy did the unthinkable earlier this year: he beat Jean Dujardin at his own game. Days before "The Artist" swept the Oscars and snagged Dujadin the gong for best actor, Sy beat him in the same field at the 37th Cesar Awards, France's equivalent to the honor. The win came as a surprise to North Americans who had yet to see Sy's film "The Intouchables," but to anyone in Europe, chances are they saw this coup coming. Sure "The Artist" was an awards juggernaut at the time, but it didn't have "The Intouchables"' firepower at the European box office, where it grossed a staggering $281 million ($166 in France alone). The public had spoken, and Sy got his just reward for his crowd-pleasing turn as a rowdy Senegalese caretaker who befriends a handicapped white millionaire ("Tell No One" star François Cluzet). Ironically enough, the phenomenon opens Stateside this Friday in select theaters via The Weinstein Company, responsible for "The Artist"'s success.

More About Him: "The Intouchables" doesn't mark Sy's first time onscreen, but it does mark his first time taking lead duties. He played supporting roles in two features from the directors responsible for his breakout, Olivier Nakache and Eric Toldeano ("Tellement proches" and "Those Happy Days"), and appeared in a string of films includin "Micmacs" from Jean-Pierre Jeunet ("Amelie").

What's Next: Sy told Indiewire that he's one month into filming Michel Gondry's latest, "Mood Indigo," in which he stars alongside two of France's biggest names, Audrey Tatou and Romain Duris.

Given how this marks your first lead role and the fact that the film's exploded the way it has over the past year, how would you characterize your run so far?

This year has been incredible, overwhelming, and full of change…a lot of positive change. Overall it's been an excellent year.

Does it feel weird doing press in America as a relative unknown after becoming such a known name overseas in such a short span of time?

No it's normal. It's extraordinary to have the opportunity to be here and have the film open here. You know, even though it has a smaller niche here, the film was a very French movie to begin with. The fact that it's been able to transcend these borders has been great. I don't expect it to be a blockbuster here. But the fact that journalists like yourself are taking interest in it, proves that it has a life here. I'm flattered.

The essential thing is to have the opportunity to show it. We're confident that the film will win over the public here because the values that it conveys are rather universal. The film will live pretty much by word of mouth.

Prior to acting, you got your start on radio, correct?

Yes. I began in radio in 1997 on a radio show hosted by a now very famous comic, Jamel Debbouze. I would fake call listeners.