At TCA on Thursday, the creatives behind Netflix’s Lupin reflected on the show’s success and its ability to transcend national borders, noting that while it draws on an iconic character, its reception also has much to do with its star, internationally beloved actor Omar Sy.
“Omar is this person. He’s genuine. He’s extremely generous and the kindest man, and at the same time, he can be tough. He’s like this mountain of muscles and can fight,” said director Louis Leterrier. “So the thing about Lupin is, he’s everything Omar is, and I think that’s the key to its success. Lupin is Omar, and Omar is Lupin.”
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Letterier later expanded on what makes the show unique, saying that it represents “the confluence of many genres and a lot of talent coming with the same goal, but coming from very different walks of life or creative paths.”
The drama co-created by George Kay and François Uzan for Netflix and Gaumont Télévision centers on Assane Diop (Sy), a modern-day gentleman thief inspired by the adventures of the Arsène Lupin character — first introduced in the early 1900s by French novelist Maurice Leblanc — who vows to avenge his father’s death.
Leterrier was joined on the panel by Sy and Kay. The latter discussed the joys of working with “the ultimate character” within the context of the “ultimate playground” — that being, of course, the city of Paris. Kay called the show “a Russian doll” that was challenging to bring to life, given its constant shifts between drama, comedy and action, praising Sy for his ability to deftly navigate tonal shifts.
For his part, Sy reflected on the show’s universally-resonant themes, such as “fighting the establishment,” and the fun in playing a character who is constantly in disguise, playing different characters himself. “The characters never end, actually. For an actor, it’s just the best exercise, and the most enjoyable thing,” he said. “I [like] to say Arsène is my best toy. I love playing with him.”
Lupin was watched by 70 million households during its first month on Netflix, quickly establishing itself as the service’s most-watched non-English series. Its first two five-part installments debuted in January and June of this year, and are currently available for streaming. A third chapter has been ordered and will go into production later this year.
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