Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 19 September 2020

Who is Lyna Khoudri? Algerian actress to star in new Wes Anderson film 'The French Dispatch'

The 27-year-old indie star is definitely one to watch

The trailer for Wes Anderson’s new film The French Dispatch has landed, and it’s immediately very clearly a work of Anderson’s: the Kodachrome colour palette (interspersed with black and white) and the cast featuring Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Owen Wilson, Edward Norton, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman, Frances McDormand and Willem Dafoe are all dead giveaways.

This is the director’s 10th film, and his first live action in six years: the plot is very him too in its apparent tweeness (although we bet it will deal with deep issues in its own way). The story will “bring to life a collection of stories from the final issue of an American magazine published in a fictional 20th century French city”. That fictional magazine, said to be based on The New Yorker, is called the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun.

Welcome additions to the Anderson universe include Timothee Chalamet, Jeffrey Wright, Benicio Del Toro and Lyna Khoudri, all actors who have never appeared in Anderson’s films before.

Lyna Khoudri in Wes Anderson’s 2020 film ‘The French Dispatch’, left, and at Cannes Film Festival last year promoting ‘Papicha’. Photos: supplied and Getty  
Lyna Khoudri in Wes Anderson's 2020 film 'The French Dispatch', left, and at Cannes Film Festival last year promoting 'Papicha'. Getty Images

Of those, Khoudri, who plays Chalamet’s love interest in the film, is the only one who is not a household name – yet.

Why Lyna Khoudri is one to watch

Born in Algiers in 1992, the Algerian-French 27-year-old actress was one of the true stars of last year’s film festival circuit thanks to her strong performance in the lead role of Mounia Meddour’s Papicha. She plays Nedjma in the film, a 19-year-old in Algiers in the late ’90s who is determined to stage a fashion show, despite a growing campaign of conservatism and a wave of extremism. The film’s title, Papicha, is a typically Algerian word that describes a young woman who is full of life.

“If I had lived in Algeria in the ’90s, I would have liked to have had her strength and courage,” Khoudri told Marie Claire of her character in Papicha.

For her work in the film, she won the Orizzonti Award for Best Actress at the 74th Venice Film Festival, and she was nominated for the Cesar Award’s Most Promising Actress category.

Khoudri will be a familiar to those who watch a lot of French TV: she starred in 2019 miniseries Les Sauvages and in 2016’s Blood on the Docks.

She’s also known for her role in 2017’s The Blessed, about those living in Algiers during the civil war, which lasted the whole decade of the ’90s, and she appeared alongside Reda Kateb and Vincent Cassel in 2019’s The Specials.

She also appears in last month’s release, The Breitner Commando by Abdel Raouf Dafri.

In Anderson’s latest film she will play a militant student activist involved in a riot.

It will be her first big Hollywood moment and the first English-language film she has appeared in, but we have a feeling it won’t be her last.

The French Dispatch is slated to hit theatres around the world this July

Updated: February 13, 2020 08:54 PM

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