Omar Sy trav­els far from edges of Paris toHol­ly­wood life

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE in Los An­ge­les

French ac­tor Omar Sy has come a long way from the gritty Paris sub­urbs where he grew up. But sit­ting in a five-star Bev­erly Hills ho­tel, he has clearly not for­got­ten his im­mi­grant roots.

And the same goes for his ca­reer — weeks af­ter star­ring in the record­break­ing Juras­sic block­buster fran­chise, he will be on US cin­ema screens in his latest French film, Samba, out this week.

“Last year was the per­fect ex­am­ple: Dur­ing the win­ter, I was shoot­ing Samba, and dur­ing the sum­mer, I was shoot­ing Juras­sic World. And formethat’s the per­fect year,” hesays.

“To travel to such dif­fer­ent projects in the same year ... If it can con­tinue like that, it will be a dream,” says Sy, who lives out­side Los An­ge­les with his wife and four chil­dren.

The 37-year-old, whose par­ents were im­mi­grants from West Africa, has long been known in his na­tive France both for TV and film work.

But he cat­a­pulted into in­ter­na­tional suc­cess af­ter The In­touch­ables (2011), on the re­la­tion­ship be­tween a quad­ri­plegic mil­lion­aire and a care­taker he hires from a poor Parisian sub­urb.

Di­rected by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano — with whom Sy was re­united forSamba— The In­touch­ables be­came the big­gest-selling French film over­seas of all time.

Sy, who also earned a Ce­sar — France’s equiv­a­lent of an Os­car — for The In­touch­ables, says the film’s as­ton­ish­ing suc­cess made it eas­ier to pro­duce Samba.

“A movie like Samba is dif­fi­cult to Voice of China, Where AreWe Go­ing, Dad? and Run­ning Man based on for­eign pro­grams, Luo says their rich ex­pe­ri­ence of nearly two decades helps them look for cre­ative so­lu­tions within the coun­try.

“Chi­nese TV pro­duc­ers are good at cre­at­ing some­thing new, but some­times we lag be­hind our Western coun­ter­parts sum­ming up our ex­pe­ri­ences and lessons.”

Luo says Chi­nese va­ri­ety shows should look to be­come mod­els for other coun­tries to fol­low, not the other way round.

“As a vet­eran in the in­dus­try, Happy Camp will pos­si­bly be the first Chi­nese va­ri­ety show ex­port­ing its model to over­seas mar­kets,” she says. Con­tact the writer at wangkai­hao@chi­nadaily.com.cn re­lease, be­cause of the sub­ject, dif­fi­cult to fi­nance in France be­cause of the sub­ject. But af­ter the huge suc­cess of Un­touch­ables, all the doors were open,” he says.

Samba tells the story of the ti­tle char­ac­ter, a Sene­galese im­mi­grant strug­gling to get by with­out proper pa­pers, andAlice, a burnt-out ex­ec­u­tive (played by Char­lotte Gains­bourg) help­ing him as part of her re­cov­ery process.

Sy says the movie — which came out in France last year, and gets a lim­ited US re­lease from Fri­day — was “100 per­cent” re­al­is­tic in terms of its de­pic­tion of the daily strug­gle of im­mi­grant life.

The is­sue has hit the head­lines in Europe in re­cent months as boats full of mostly African im­mi­grants streamed across the Mediter­ranean, some­times even los­ing their lives in the process.

“It is an un­for­tu­nate co­in­ci­dence,” Sy says of the film’s re­lease at the same time as such tragedies.

“But in Europe, and in France es­pe­cially, we have the immigration is­sue ... we heard about it since we were young, all the politi­cians talk about immigration and im­mi­grants,” he says.

The ac­tor­moved­toLAthree years ago.

In ad­di­tion to Juras­sic World, he has ap­peared in the last X-Men movie and will co-star with Bradley Cooper in a com­edy, Adam Jones, out this Oc­to­ber.

Sy says he is very happy with this com­bi­na­tion of do­ing Hol­ly­wood movies and work­ing back home — not­ing that the LA movies, while more high-pro­file in­ter­na­tion­ally, ac­tu­ally put less pres­sure on him.

“To have the ... re­spon­si­bil­ity I have in films in France, (con­trasted with) some­thing a lit­tle lighter, where I am­not the lead and I amin a sup­port­ing role with a lit­tle less pres­sure and a lit­tle more free­dom, it’s a per­fect bal­ance,” he says.

That said, Sy— whose English has come a long way since he moved to Cal­i­for­nia — doesn’t rule out tak­ing lead roles in US movies in fu­ture. “Why not?” he asks. “If I have the op­por­tu­nity, if it’s the right time, the good op­por­tu­nity and if I feel able to do it, why not?”

Inany case, he doesn’t plan to give up his French film ca­reer any­time soon.

“There are so many movies to do in France, there are so many sto­ries to tell, there are so­many use­ful movies we can do. There is no rea­son to stop,” he says.

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