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Tahar Rahim
Culture

Tahar Rahim, a natural actor specialising in tortured characters

By Justine FRETIGNE
25/02/2016

Six years after receiving two César awards for Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet, Tahar Rahim continues on his chosen path with one film after another. Aged 34, the French actor has now played in dozens of films and several series. He has firmly established himself in French cinema and has acted with the greatest: Antonio Banderas in Day of the Falcon (Or noir), Léa Seydoux in Grand Central, Omar Sy and Charlotte Gainsbourg in Samba… We interviewed him on the occasion of the British release of his new series, The Last Panthers, in which he plays a Franco-Algerian police officer.

The Last Panthers, an almost-like-cinema TV series

Poster of The Last Panthers
Poster of The Last Panthers
Even though he has “always had a bias for cinema”, Tahar confesses he has “enjoyed his role in The Last Panthers and exploring the unexpected freedom provided by this TV series”. Apart from the rhythm – which was much more intense than during cinema shootings – as an actor, he did not notice many differences between the preparation work he has to put in for a film and a high-quality series like The Last Panthers: “it was like cinema on TV”, he explains. The story begins in a luxurious jewellery shop in Marseille, when the gang of the Pink Panthers bursts in and steals 15 million euros worth of diamonds. Whilst being pursued by the police, one of the robbers accidentally kills a 6-year-old girl. Khalil (Tahar Rahim) is in charge of conducting the investigation in Marseille, while the plot travels to Serbia and to London. “I found the complexity and the duality of my character very interesting”, explains Tahar. “He is seeking redemption, but sinks always further down and destroys his relationship whenever he tries to mend his mistakes”. Over the six episodes, violence is unleashed and Khalil is stuck at the heart of a tragedy.
The Last Panthers is to be released in the UK on DVD and Blu-ray on 7 March. You can watch the trailer below.

In 2016: two film releases and two shootings

Apart from The Last Panthers, Tahar’s diary is already fully booked for 2016. He is about to release two dramas: Mend the Living, directed by Katell Quillévéré and adapted from a book written by Maylis de Kerangal, and The Woman in the Silver Plate, by Kiyoshi Kurosawa. In Réparer les Vivants, Tahar plays a nurse in charge of coordinating the delivery of a heart, from the brain-dead surfer it belonged to, to the terminally ill mother it could save. “My character’s job is to help the parents decide whether to give their son's heart. ”. “It is a very psychological part, and my first role as a doctor”, he adds. In Kurosawa’s new film, Tahar becomes an assistant photographer, who subjects his daughter to never ending and painful shooting sessions, during which the young woman cannot escape from her father’s grip.

In addition, Tahar will enrol into the cinema adaptation of Karine Tuil’s book L’invention de nos vies, as well as in Teddy Lussi Modeste’s new film, in which he will play a humorist… “But it is not a comedy”, underlines the actor.

Will Tahar Rahim play in another comedy?

Tahar Rahim with Omar Sy in Samba
Tahar Rahim with Omar Sy in Samba

“I would love to!”, he answers, enthusiastically. His bright smile and tender eyes make you wonder why “at first, it was difficult for directors to picture [him] in comedies”. “Now that I have played in Samba (by Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache) and Le Père Noël (by Alexandre Coffre), I think the message has been received”, analyses Tahar. “But I always look at three criteria before accepting a part: the script, the character and last but not least the director. I have received a few proposals, but they did not fulfil my criteria”, he reveals. 

This certainly can give food for thought to many scriptwriters. 

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