You may know Omar Sy from his blockbuster roles in [X-Men: Days Of Future Past](tag:203942) and Jurassic World. The French actor has also shined in Les Intouchables (The Untouchables) and most recently in Samba. It's a French film with English subtitles, but his presence on-screen as Samba Cissé transcended the barriers of language and I would recommend seeing it to see why.
I asked him how he researched the role, in which he plays an African immigrant to France.
"I met a lot of people like Samba who moved to France and lived illegally in our country. I had a chat with them. I did a physical change. I gained a lot of weight, learned the way to talk, the way to walk, the way to look. It was very different... I put on almost 10 kilos [for the role] (22 pounds)."
He spoke about his natural chemistry with Charlotte Gainsbourg, who played Alice in the film.
"It wasn't difficult because she's a wonderful woman. She's really nice and a really interesting girl and she's an amazing actress. So it wasn't difficult to have that [chemistry]. I was so impressed to work with an actress like Charlotte. When I was 13 years old, I used to watch her movies growing up. So, I was so impressed to work with her. We got the chemistry like our characters, Samba and Alice. They look so different and come from different environments. They get so close, though. For Charlotte and I, it was kind of the same."
There's a huge difference between working on a film like Samba and some of the blockbusters he's been in, such as Jurassic World and X-Men.
"The huge difference for me is the language. Because between those two movies, it's French and English and it's a big difference. Different types of stories to tell. But as an actor, you have to be able to tell different stories. The way to act as Samba or Barry from Jurassic World, it's different. When I'm in Samba, it feels more like we're dealing with human feelings and social issues. But in the end, it's the same job, we have to tell a story."
He said he probably prefers doing films in French, mostly because his acting ability can shine through much more.
"It's easier for me in French because it's my first language. I'm working on my English to be able to have the same freedom in English one day, I hope."
Sy compared his role as Samba to his role in "Les Intouchables"
"It was different, because for Untouchables, it was my first lead role. So, the approach was really, really different. Everything was new. For Samba, I went on the set with the Untouchables [on my resumé]. Before, for Untouchables, I had a difficult time proving myself as an actor. But for Samba, I considered myself as an established actor. I did more research. The actor was very different from me, so I had to do a lot of research."
He had much more confidence going into this role as Samba Cissé, and it showed. Every time he stepped into a scene, you felt his presence. You could say his swagger increased with this role, even though his Les Intouchables performance was so great as well. Experience always helps.
When I asked him what he was most excited about going forward, he gave a great reply.
"Everything! Everything I do, I'm so excited about! In October, there's a release of a movie I shot last summer called 'Adam Jones' directed by John Wells with Bradley Cooper. I am so happy with this movie and excited about it. There's a French movie called Chocolat, directed by Roschdy Zem. The story of the first black clown in France. I'm so excited about it. It's set to be released in February."
Omar is definitely living the dream. He's what he said about his dream role as an actor, which I found to be quite charming.
"To be honest, I think I'm already living a dream. So it's hard for me to dream beyond that. If I could just keep living the way I'm living now, that would be the dream."
Sounds like the man is not only killing it on-screen, but has the right mentality about things as well.
Go see Samba in select theaters in LA and NY now.