x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Sharif brings own brand of humour to festival

Omar Sharif lights up the DIFF with his self-deprecating humour, leaving the media at a press conference in fits of laughter.

The Egyptian actor Omar Sharif at the Dubai International Film Festival.
The Egyptian actor Omar Sharif at the Dubai International Film Festival.

DUBAI // Omar Sharif lit up the Dubai International Film Festival yesterday with his self-deprecating humour, leaving the media at a press conference in fits of laughter. The most famous Arab actor in the world shifted effortlessly from Arabic to French and then English as he joked about his many roles. "I wasn't always playing an Arab, I've played a German and I've played a Jewish American in Funny Girl with Barbra Streisand," he said.

During shooting for the film in 1967, the Six Day War broke out between Israeli and Arab armies. "All the people insulted me and asked why they were paying me money that I would probably send back to President Nasser to help in the war against the Jewish people. Then the Jewish people insulted me because I was an Arab playing a Jewish American. I just couldn't win," he said. "The thing is that I have never asked a girl what her nationality was before I kissed her."

The Egyptian-born actor, who stole the hearts of generations of women in 1960s movies such as Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, said he did not mind not being a heartthrob any more. "I decided that when you are my age you are old and you must not think of the past or the future," he said. "You must live in every minute of your life as if it is your last." He said he was fascinated by his latest movie J'ai oublié de te dire (I forgot to tell you) in which he plays an elderly Alzheimer's patient.

"I am intrigued by the disease and how it is growing in the world," he said. pkennedy@thenational.ae