A big name in his native France, Omar Sy has had a successful foray into Hollywood with several blockbusters but the actor and comedian says mastering English as a new language remains a challenge.
Sy, who shot to fame with comedy TV roles, won a Cesar award – France’s equivalent of the Oscars – for his portrayal of a caregiver to a quadriplegic man in “The Intouchables”.
He relocated to Los Angeles and appeared in “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and this summer’s box office hit “Jurassic World”.
“The hardest part for me is the language that I don’t speak … it blocks me a little on certain things,” he said in an interview.
“In France, I already have a career and a name that give me access to certain things and here I have to reconstruct all of that. That makes it interesting to work here, to start from zero again.”
The actor teamed up with “The Intouchables” directors Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache for “Samba”, in which he portrays a Senegalese immigrant trying to make a living in Paris. The film, in French cinemas late last year, was put out on limited release in the United States last week.
“It means a lot for me to play Samba and to tell that story because of my own story of course,” said Sy, whose parents emigrated from West Africa to France in the 1960-70s.
Sy also stars in the upcoming “Adam Jones” with Bradley Cooper and also has a role alongside Oscar winner Tom Hanks in “Inferno”, based on “The Da Vinci Code” author Dan Brown’s book.
“Being French, I really admire Marion Cotillard’s work and her journey. She’s French and she speaks excellent English,” Sy said of the Oscar-winning actress.
“For example, I want to speak perfect English and when I see her speaking, it inspires me and encourages me.”