From Trappes to Hollywood: the American dream of French actor Omar Sy

Omar Sy is a French actor born in 1978 in Trappes, in the Yvelines department. Known for his comic duo created with Fred Testot in the early 2000s, Omar Sy rose to fame in 2011 with the film “Intouchables”, directed by Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache. Rewarded by the César for best actor in 2012, he began a career in Hollywood where he appeared in several blockbusters such as X-Men or Jurassic World, alongside the biggest American movie stars. In this article, we will look at the career of Omar Sy, from his beginnings on television as a comedian to his formidable rise in the 7th art.

The beginnings of Omar Sy

The actor began his career in 1996 on radio Nova where he regularly did freelance work at the request of his childhood friend, Jamel Debbouze. At Radio Nova, he meets his future accomplice, Fred Testot, with whom he creates the tandem “Omar and Fred”. The newly formed duo then accompanies Jamel Debbouze on the Canal + television channel, to participate in the new program of which he is the star “le cinéma de Jamel”. On Canal +, Fred Testot and Omar Sy created the program “le visiophon”, then chained sketches on television, as well as shows on stage. In 2000, Omar and Fred made their film debut by joining the cast of the film “La Tour Montparnasse infernale”, alongside Eric and Ramzy. In 2005, After-sales service for emissions was adapted on Canal + in the form of short sketches and Omar Sy’s film career accelerated. In 2006, the actor took on his first major film role in the film “Our Happy Days”, alongside Marylou Berry and Jean-Paul Rouve.

Omar Sy and Fred Testot in the after-sales service for programs broadcast on Canal +
Omar Sy and Fred Testot in the after-sales service for programs broadcast on Canal +

The actor’s consecration with the film Intouchables

In “Intouchables” in 2011, Omar Sy embodies the role of a young thirty-year-old from the suburbs, who has become a carer for a rich quadriplegic played by François Cluzet. With more than 19 million admissions, this film directed by the tandem Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, propels Omar Sy, the child of Trappes, who becomes the third favorite personality of the French. He also becomes the first black actor to win a Caesar, in 2012, during the 37th ceremony dedicated to the 7th art. That same year, and following the withdrawal of the “After-sales program service” from the Canal + program schedule, Omar Sy left to settle with his family in Los Angeles. On the spot, the actor connects the castings, while following intensive courses of English. From 2013, the french actor joined the cast of the blockbuster “X-Men: days of future past”, alongside Hugh Jackman and Jennifer Lawrence.

His American career

In April 2013, Omar Sy appears alongside James Franco and Kate Hudson in the blockbuster “Good people”, whose success is international. In 2015, the French actor appeared in the casting of the fourth part of the saga created by Steven Spielberg “Jurassic World”. At the same time, the actor goes back and forth between Los Angeles and Paris, where he continues to shoot for French directors. In 2015, he plays in the comedy-drama entitled “à vive!”, alongside Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller. In 2016, Omar Sy interpreted the role of the clown Rafaël Padilla in the French biopic directed by Roschdy Zem “Chocolat”, and the same year, an IFOP poll carried out for the Sunday newspaper, designated Omar Sy as the favorite personality of the French, thus dethroning Jean Jacques Goldman. Also in 2016, the actor starred in the American blockbuster “Inferno” directed by Ron Howard, alongside Tom Hanks. In 2017, Omar Sy joined the cast of the American film “Transformers: the last knight” by Michaël Bay and in 2020, the actor played alongside Harrison Ford in the film directed by Chris Sanders “the call of the forest” Finally, in 2022 Omar Sy resumes his role as Barry in the blockbuster “Jurassic World: the world after”.

Omar Sy alongside François Cluzet in the film Intouchables
Omar Sy alongside François Cluzet in the film Intouchables

French films played by the actor

  • The Infernal Montparnasse Tower (2001): the actor began his acting career in this comic film, alongside his accomplices Eric and Ramzy.
  • Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra (2002): directed by Alain Chabat, this film attracted nearly 14 million moviegoers.
  • The Raid (2002): in this film, Omar Sy plays a UN sergeant alongside Mouss Diouf and Yves Régnier.
  • Le boulet (2002): he plays the role of Malian, alongside Gérard Lanvin, Benoît Poelevoorde and José Garcia.
  • La beuze (2003): In this film, Omar Sy plays the neighbor Michel Dembélé, alongside Michaël Youn and Vincent Desagnat.
  • Our Happy Days (2006): this film marks the first collaboration between the duo Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache.
  • Safari (2009): in this film directed by Olivier Baroux (Kad and Olivier), Omar Sy plays Youssouf Hammal, alongside Kad Mérad.
  • So close (2009): this film marks the second collaboration between Omar Sy and the Toledano/Nakache duo.
  • Les tuche (2011): in this first part of the famous family saga, he plays the role of a priest.
  • Intouchables (2011): this film remains to this day Omar Sy’s greatest success, rewarded with the César for best actor for his role as Driss, the carer from the suburbs. In France, the film will total nearly 19 million admissions.
  • Samba (2014): in this new collaboration with the duo of Intouchables directors, Omar Sy plays Samba interpreter, assistant cook in a hotel.
  • Chocolat (2016): in this film directed by Roschdy Zem, the actor plays Rafaël Padilla, alias Chocolat, the clown.
  • Le cop de Belleville (2018): in this film directed by Rachid Bouchareb, the french actor plays the role of Sébastien Bouchard, a police officer.
  • Le chant du loup (2019): in this film, Omar Sy plays a corvette captain, then a frigate captain, commander of a nuclear attack submarine.
  • Tirailleurs (2023): in this film by Mathieu Vadepied, the actor plays a father who enlists in the French army in 1917 to join his son.

American films with Omar Sy

  • X-Men: days of future past (2014) : this film marks the debut of Omar Sy in Hollywood, alongside Hugh Jackman.
  • Jurassic World (2015) : in this film, he plays the character of Barry Sembène, guardian of the velociraptors.
  • Alive! (2015) : in this film by John Wells, the french actor plays the character of Michel, alongside Bradley Cooper.
  • Inferno (2016) : in this thriller directed by Ron Howard, Omar Sy plays the role of Christophe Bouchard, a scientist launched in search of a devastating virus.
  • Transformers: the last knight (2017) : in this blockbuster supervised by Michaël Bay, he interprets the transformer “Hot Rod”.
  • The call of the forest (2020) : in this film directed by Chris Sanders, Omar Sy plays the character of Perrault, master of the dog Buck, alongside Harrison Ford.
  • Jurassic World: the world after (2022) : Omar Sy resumes his role as Barry Sembène, guardian of the velociraptors, alongside Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neil, Laura Dern and Chris Pratt.

In 2021, Omar Sy embodies the character of Arsène Lupin for the Netflix platform in the series “Lupin”, the first part of which was filmed at the Louvre Museum , in Paris and in Etretat . Netflix announces the release of the 3rd part of the adventures of Lupin for October 5th 2023. The actor also regularly lends his voice by dubbing characters in famous animated films. Omar Sy is the French voice of Joe Gardner, the pianist passionate about Jazz in the movie “Soul”. We also find his voice in “Volt, star in spite of him”, “Brother of the bears”, “The kings of sliding” or even “Angry Birds”.

Follow Omar Sy on his Instagram account

Omar Sy in the role of LUPIN, series available on the NETFLIX platform
Omar Sy in the role of LUPIN, series available on the NETFLIX platform


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