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Vanessa McMahon

Vanessa is a novel writer, screenwriter, rep and a film producer. She shares her discoveries and film surprises. :-)



Dazi and A Prophet





An interview with actor Slimane Dazi of A Prophet (2009). 


In April, I traveled to Casablanca, Morocco where I met and hung out with producer Marco Cherqui of Chic Films, producer of A Prophet. At that time, while dining with Marco and chatting for a few days, I had not yet seen A Prophet. Of course, A Prophet is the film that has won several awards worldwide including the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes 2009, the 2010 BAFTA and a 2010 Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film. But aside from its awards, I didn't know anything about the film during my time with Cherqui. But, he was a nice fellow and on one of the days we dined together, I asked him to kindly tell me about the journey of making this uber successful film. Basically, the film is about a man who knows nothing when he enters prison and comes out of prison a wise and educated person, ready to live in the real world. Marco told me it had been a seven year long journey from concept to screen and that it had been a story he was passionate about from the beginning. Seven years of hard work and unfaltering devotion! Marco is a funny guy. With laughing blue eyes and a content grin, he sighed and said, 'I'm so tired!'; no doubt from all the travel of the past year. I suggested he take a vacation and then he chuckled and said, 'Oh no! Now that I've been all over the world and met all these people, this is only the beginning!' Well, he has a few projects up his sleeve for the upcoming year. Will he match the success of A Prophet? Let's hope so. Only time will tell!


Now it is July and I have seen the film twice and, indeed, it is worth all the praise it has received and then some! I spoke with Slimane Dazi, the great French actor who plays Lattrache in A Prophet. I asked him to share with me his thoughts about the experience working on set as well as his role as a tough gangster. This is what he told me (I am translating from French so bear with me):


ME: Hi Slimane, can you please tell us about A Prophet and about the role Lattrache?


SLIMANE: About the film? I think that you have seen it!


ME: Yes, I have and I love it!


SLIMANE: I read the first version by my friend writer Abdel Dafri, the author of the original screenplay. Well, before the readapted version by Audiard and T. Bideguin was written. I was stuck with tension and the truthfulness of the subject but there was not a part for me because the film takes place among youth and the more mature characters were complicated. I was very close with Tahar Rahim after the projection of the TV series La Commune when he began to audition for the role of Malik El Djebena which was very grueling for my little soul brother. I stayed close to him like iron to my friend. One day when T. Rahim left the auditions with J. Audiard behind him and said that he found in front of him a dilemma of a size which he had never found- a comedian for the role of Lattrache! All the other roles were already attributed. Like this my friend Tahar proposed to Audiard for casting to watch the 3rd and 4th episode of La Commune. I had passed the test with R. Rousseau, but to say of the casting audition, Audiard was not even there! I thought that this made some effects of my auditions which went superbly well and I think R. Rousseau didn't forget me because he had really flipped! hahahaahhaha! One week later on the phone I had received the positive response for the part like a diploma successful with honors.


ME: What would you like to share with people about the experience of making this incredibly successful film which has taken on a life of its own?


SLIMANE: The work with Jacques was simple for me. He asked me to make repetitions with him and the other comedians and I. I attended after two months the dates for the famous repetitions. When Jacques gave me the dates they fell right in the middle of my vacation dates with my daughter. I told him I wasn't available. He acquiesced without needing to be convinced while chewing his pipe. However, the four scenes that I act in, they unwind wonderfully. The first which is the car sequence with Tahar Rahim where I put the maximum tension on him, there we had bluffed and surprised J. Audiard with worry. About the sequence of the cottage on the sea I had one sleepless night; In the part where I didn't know anything but on the set I was having spasms. Tahar then took his part truthfully, he had just recited one small statement of the Koran and all of this came out when I returned to the set. The work with Audiard was one of the richest experiences of my acting career, a certain similarity with the work of Peter Brook. In my work with comedians, it's simple. I don't play the games, those of T. Rahim and his talent, the grand complicit generous pleasure he has of turning situations with the most complications and difficulties into graceful fluidity.   


ME: What will your future film projects be?


SLIMANE: I have begun a feature film written and directed by Ismael Ferrouki with T. Rahim in the main role then that is that of Kiff. And for the other projects in the future, Insha'Allah!


ME: Merci beaucoup, Slimane.You are fantastic in A Prophet as the intimidating Lattrache, even if you normally play a comedian! :-) Hope to see much more of you in the future! 


SLIMANE:  With pleasure. Have a nice summer and hope to see you soon! :-)


see film trailer here:



Interview by Vanessa McMahon; July 26, 2010.


actor Slimane Dazi (Lattrache) from A Prophet (2009)


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