Omar Sy, who grew up in the projects, had made a dozen films before being offered his first leading role in what became the French box office sensation “The Intouchables.”
Helmed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, the blockbuster dramedy earned Sy a Cesar award, making him the first black thesp to win France’s top acting prize. Inspired by the real-life friendship between a quadriplegic aristocrat and his street-smart caretaker, “The Intouchables” was selected as France’s candidate in the foreign-language Oscar race. It has grossed $389 million worldwide, and more than $12 million Stateside, where the Weinstein Co. is releasing. The hit laffer is Gaul’s second-highest grossing local film of all time (after “Welcome to the Sticks”).
Nakache and Toledano, who had cast Sy in “Those Happy Days” and “So Happy Together,” penned the role of Senegalese-born Driss with the star in mind. “It was the first time I was given the opportunity to really be an actor, to be outright funny but also play some dramatic scenes,” confides Sy, who became popular writing jokes and performing sketches on French TV.
Having moved to L.A this summer, Sy hopes to follow in Jean Dujardin’s footsteps and find work in Hollywood.