A charismatic actor with a gift for physical comedy, Omar Sy became an overnight sensation after his career-making performance in the French film "The Intouchables" (2011). Sy launched his career doin...
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|Breakthrough role, playing the caretaker to a wealthy quadriplegic in "The Intouchables"|
|Became first black actor to win the César Award for Best Actor (for "The Intouchables")|
|Made feature acting debut in French film "La tour Montparnasse infernale/Don't Die Too Hard!"|
|Co-wrote and co-starred on French series "Omar et Fred" (Canal Plus) with Fred Testot|
|TV miniseries debut, "Les multiples" (Canal Plus)|
Omar Sy was born on Jan. 20, 1978 in Trappes, Yvelines, France to a Mauritanian mother and a Senegalese father. One of eight children, he grew up in a low-income housing project about 20 miles west of Paris. Sy's passion for the entertainment industry started at an early age, when he used it not only to make people laugh, but to also help him deal with the hardships he endured living in the projects. By the time he was a senior in high school, he was already doing skits for a local radio show, portraying a retired Senegalese soccer player. These skits became a big hit, and helped Sy land a deal with a French production company to star on the television series "Omar et Fred," a comedy-sketch show with his friend and comedy partner, Fred Testot. Week after week, the duo took turns posing as crazy customers calling in to a fictional radio station to complain about all sorts of strange things.
Sy furthered his career with featured roles in a variety of French films, including comedies like "Le raid" (2002), "La beuze" (2003), and the 2006 film "Nos jours heureux," where he played one of six eccentric counselors trying to deal with foul weather, bad food, and bored kids at a summer camp in rural France. Sy continued to make inroads in his native France, with a recurring part on shows like the animated comedy "Moot-Moot" (Canal+, 2007) and in comedies such as "King Guillaume" (2009), "Tellement proches," and "Micmacs," a satire on the arms trade in which he played a former ethnographer who only speaks in clichés. While he worked incessantly on TV and in film, Sy was mostly relegated to supporting parts and had yet to land his breakout role.
In 2011, he became Europe's most celebrated actor, thanks to his lead role in "The Intouchables," a feel-good comedy based on a true story of an unlikely friendship between a quadriplegic aristocrat, Philippe (François Cluzet), and Driss, his wisecracking home nurse from the melting-pot suburbs of Paris. A box office hit when it opened in France, "The Intouchables" became Sy's ticket to international stardom. Audiences responded warmly to his portrayal of the charismatic Driss, whose honesty and lack of pity was exactly what the wheelchair-bound Philippe needed. In spite of its success in France, the film was not, initially, universally accepted. Some American critics bristled at the director casting a black actor for the part of Driss when the real-life caregiver, Abdel Sellou, was Arab; one Variety critic even accused the movie of racism. But overall, audiences raved about Sy's performance and the film's positive message. In February 2012, Sy made history by becoming the first black actor to win a César for Best Actor for his role in the film.
By Candy Cuenco
From classic movie palaces to the state-of-the-art IMAX screens.