They say when Arsène Lupin strikes, it’s with calculating precision. Omar Sy, the smooth operator behind George Kay and François Uzan’s modern-day Lupin, hit the bullseye recently with the movie deal of a lifetime, Elsa Keslassy of Variety reports. The part-Mauritian French actor expanded on his current contract with Netflix by inking something new: a multi-year arrangement that will allow him to executive produce (and star in) several originals well into the 2020s.
As founder and representative of his Los Angeles and Paris-based film company, the Lupin star would have complete control over his Netflix projects from now on, from staff and direction to the specifics of production. “I have experienced Netflix’s collaboration with artists and their passion to bring unique and diverse stories to homes all over the world,” Sy tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I am very happy to have the opportunity to extend the relationship and look forward to this next step of our journey together.”
The Lupin star has executive Gaëlle Mareschi’s full backing as part of the streamer’s recent attempts at building on extensive local-language content. Mareschi is a respected industry pro currently serving as Netflix’s director of international original film over in France. He joined the company last year and will be working closely with Omar Sy as he undertakes this exciting new chapter in his career. His official statement reads: “We have been lucky enough to have worked closely with Omar for a number of years and are excited to now expand our partnership further to bring his creative vision to our global audiences. We look forward to working together with Omar and his team as he grows as a producer and brings more unique stories and voices to Netflix.”
Omar Sy was a Cesar awardee long before he donned Assane Diop’s manifold gentleman disguises this year. Netflix and Lupin may have established Sy’s career for the whole world to pore over, but nothing changes the fact he was able to accomplish thrice as much without touching a single Hollywood role. For one, he was the first Black man to win the coveted national French award for his role in Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano’s landmark buddy cop The Intouchables, about the enduring friendship between a quadriplegic (played to form by fellow Cesar awardee François Cluzet) and a recovering robber (Sy). As the caregiver to Cluzet’s struggling Philippe, Omar Sy was also granted the Lumières Award and Globes de Cristal Award, both for Best Actor.
Not counting Netflix’s Lupin, Sy has starred in a number of French and Hollywood productions since — though the former has trumped the latter by a mile — including as the mutant Lucas Bishop in Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, Chris Pratt’s raptor-caring second-in-command Barry in Jurassic World, Bradley Cooper’s rival and sous-chef Michel in the Gordon Ramsay-esque Burnt, and Joe Gardner in Disney/Pixar’s Soul.
By the time Lupin came knocking, Omar Sy was a beloved icon in his homeland and overseas. With film experience as distinguished as his, he more than earned his spot in Arsène Lupin’s rotating catalog of adaptations, each as colorful and variegated as the famed gentleman thief’s changing costumes and identities. The Netflix deal was a long time coming for an actor of Omar Sy’s caliber. Not only has he actively produced actual episodes of Lupin, his depth is unmatched; audiences would benefit greatly from seeing his masterful touch play out twenty different ways in other productions.
Lupin was Netflix’s most profitable foreign-language series before Squid Game practically wrestled it to the ground only eight months after the first five episodes premiered. The show’s production value was so high, the streamer ordered a third part after Lupin closed in on ten episodes. Much like Monkey Punch’s Lupin the Third only fifty years prior, Omar Sy’s Lupin is an alternate take on the master of disguises French author Maurice Leblanc conceived in 1905.
While the manga Lupin is Arsène Lupin’s grandson in the 60s, Sy’s Senegal-born Black Lupin is a self-confessed fan of the original stories; Assane Diop, the son of an immigrant, read a book about the fictional thief as a child and was inspired to follow in his footsteps when his father Babakar was falsely accused by his employer, a corrupt businessman named Hubert Pellegrini, and died while in prison. In an impressive turn that merges two of France’s best exports — Alexandre Dumas’s Count of Monte Cristo and the adventures of Arsène Lupin — Diop uses his very particular set of skills (ranging from masterclass thievery and numerous outfits to the very art of deception) to avenge his father. It’s no question Netflix has the best taste in original content, and Lupin is no exception.
The last five episodes of Lupin aired in June. Netflix already renewed the series for another five episodes.