Omar Sharif: Pure charm

July 10, 2015 § Leave a comment

the_rakes_progressTo meet Omar Sharif was to fall instantly under his spell. At least that’s what happened to me when I interviewed him for Salon in 2003.

Sharif was promoting his role in François Dupeyron’s cinematic confection “Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran,” in which he played an old Muslim shopkeeper in 1960s Paris who dispenses sweet nuggets of wisdom to a young Jewish boy slightly lonelier and much, much sadder than he.

“Smiling is what makes you happy,” Sharif’s M. Ibrahim tells young Momo, tenderly played by Pierre Boulanger, who drinks in his advice like nectar. “Try it, you’ll see.”

Sharif himself took a similar don’t-worry-be-happy view of life. He told me that he had much in common with M. Ibrahim. “We ended up being exactly the same,” he said, which makes it especially poignant, perhaps, to recall his description of the character’s death.

“It is the last lesson that I’m giving to the boy: How to die, that dying is not something terrible. ‘I am not dying,’ he says to Momo, because Momo is crying,” Sharif said. “‘I’m just going to the immensity.’ It’s something to smile about, not to be sad.”

The rake’s progress (Salon)

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