“The new king of Hollywood? For me, only Platini and Zidane existed ”. Since A prophet, Jacques Audiard’s film that made him known at Cannes in 2009, until international recognition with The Mauritanian (2021), fate seems to have been generous to Tahar Rahim (France, 40 years old). He, however, remains down to earth, wanting to chat and joke. “One day I left with my suitcase for Paris,” recalls this son of Algerian parents. “There I went to classes and divided my time between the theater, the factory jobs and in a nightclub, and I did it because I believed in something. That is why today I prefer to be surprised and live in the moment ”.
Born in Belfort, a small French town in the Burgundy-Franche-Comté region, Rahim turns 40 this month. In the last 13 years, his career has made him a known face around the world, breaking stereotypes and linguistic and geographical barriers. In the list of crucial milestones in his evolution as an artist there are films such as The Eagle (2011), Last (2013), Black Gold (2014) the Mary Magdalene (2018), and television series such as The Looming Tower (2018) and The Eddy (2020). These experiences changed him, just like The Mauritanian (2021), directed by Kevin Macdonald, presented at the last Berlinale and available on digital platforms. A true story in which he plays Mohamedou Ould Slahi, unjustly accused of being an accomplice in the September 11 attacks in New York, and for that reason imprisoned in Guantánamo prison from 2002 to 2016. With his heart divided between violence , the abuses and the hope of justice, the inmate collected and described this terrible experience in his memoirs, Guantanamo Diary, written in 2015 (and translated into Spanish in 2016 as Guantanamo Journal by Captain Swing Books). “When I read the script I felt pissed off, sad. In the end I cried. But only when you are lucky enough to meet people like Mohamedou can you understand their philosophy, their ability to forgive despite having suffered horrible things. Thanks to him, I have received a life lesson: we must not let fear guide us or take the helm of our lives. You look at fear in the face ”.
For this role, Rahim received a Golden Globe nomination, as did her co-star, double Oscar winner Jodie Foster. “Interpreting is a matter of endurance, patience, need, the desire to play, but I have never been dazzled by the lights of success, because I know that the journey is long. I grew up surrounded by diverse cultures and ethnicities, and watching American cinema as one of my sources of inspiration. At that time I didn’t have that much money; I would enter through the back door of the video store, spy and see wonderful images go by. I discovered the world of New Hollywood in the seventies, the Taxi Driver Scorsese, films directed by Francis Ford Coppola or John Cassavetes and performed by Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, John Cazale, Gene Hackman or Dustin Hoffman. They were fantastic, they established codes that are still in force today and in which many of us look at ourselves. Nor should we forget about Fellini and Rossellini, Germany, year zero, of that ability to see reality. Men like Bob Meyer, director, painter, who disappeared a few months ago, also marked me, and for me he was more than a mentor, a second father to whom I owe many things ”.
Rahim also stars now The snake, a Netflix series in which you take on the role of Charles Sobhraj, the French con man who killed 12 people in India in the 1970s. Next, he will embark on the challenge of shooting a musical, a very French project that reflects one of his great passions. “As a child no one at home played instruments, not even me, but I love music, and it is very important in terms of inspiration: I think of Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Michael Jackson, the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan.” Classics that are still in fashion, like his style. “I like to go back to the fifties and sixties, in that I am a huge fan of Steve McQueen, Alain Delon and Marlon Brando. Rebellious and elegant men. Deep down, a special touch is always needed to distinguish ourselves from the rest: that is our identity ”.
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