Simon Abkarian (born 5 March 1962) is a French-Armenian actor.
Born in Gonesse, Val d’Oise, of Armenian descent, Abkarian spent his childhood in Lebanon. He moved to Los Angeles, where he joined an Armenian theater company managed by Gerald Papazian. He returned to France in 1985, settling in Paris. He took classes at the Acting International school, then he joined Ariane Mnouchkine’s Théâtre du Soleil.
Abkarian left the Théâtre du Soleil in 1993 and played in 2001 “Beast on the Moon” by Richard Kalinoski, directed by Irina Brook, a play about the life of a survivor of the Genocide of the Armenians, a role which won him critical acclaims and the Molière of the best comedian.
His first roles in cinema were proposed by French filmaker Cédric Klapisch, who asked him to play in several of his movies, notably in “Chacun cherche son chat” (“When the Cat is Away” (1996) and in “Ni pour, ni contre (bien au contraire)” en 2003.
He was featured in Sally Potter’s Yes (2004), in which he played the lead role.
Abkarian then played Mehdi Ben Barka in the thriller “J’ai vu tuer Ben Barka” by Serge Le Péron, about the kidnapping and the murder of the leader of the Moroccan opposition. He then played in “Prendre Femme” by Ronit Elkabetz which won him several interpretation prizes. Playing different roles and in different genres, he was featured in the adventure “Zaïna, cavalière de l’Atlas” by Bourlem Guerdjou, in the comedy “Le Démon de midi” by Marie-Pascale Osterriet. He has also appeared in Atom Egoyan’s Ararat (2002), he was Albert in Almost Peaceful (2004) by French Director Michel Deville a film about Holocaust survivors, he was featured in “Your Dreams” (2005) by Denis Thybaud. He played the role of villain Alex Dimitrios in the James Bond film, Casino Royale. The character is a Government contractor and arms dealer working against Bond.
He was featured as Sahak in the thriller “Les Mauvais Joueurs” (“The Gamblers”) (2007) by Frédéric Balekdjian. He has also been the voice of Ebi in the French version of the animated feature “Persepolis”. Abkarian played the role of the eminent Armenian poet Missak Manouchianin in “Army of Crime” (2010) by Robert Guédiguian, a French filmaker based in Marseilles, who is also of Armenian parentage.
He has also played Dariush Bakhshi, the Iranian Special Consul, in the BBC drama Spooks MI-5.
Abkarian is known for his intensity in acting and for his ecclectism in the roles he choses.
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