Omar Sharif

  1. Zia Mohyeddin, Lawrence of Arabia, 1961.
  2. Tom Courtenay, Doctor Zhivago, 1965  .Kirk Douglas chased after the Russian novel winning  the 1958 Nobel Prize for Literature. However, Rome producer Carlo Ponti secured the rights to Boris Pasternak’s book, based not only on Russia’s revolution and Stalin’s Great Purge of freedom, and  the married writer’s long affair with the poet Olga Ivinskaya.  Scenarist  Robert Bolt tried to persuade Albert Finney  to be the revolutionary Pasha. But director David Lean wasn’t interested because Finney had refused to be his Lawrence of Arabia.   Not when  his Lawrence find, Egyptian Omarf Sharif, asked if he could play  Pasha – then being totally staggered by being  given Doc Z, himself. (Michael Caine’s idea.  Or so  Mike said).  The Egyptian star said he was close to a burnout  after the 12 month shoot.
  3. Mario Adorf, Major Dundee, 1965.   Egyptian, German, apparently any accent would suffice for Sergeant   Gomez.   Sharif said   he only made films to pay for his gambling. “Sometimes, I lose badly and phone my agent:   Get me a film. When? Today!”
  4. George Segal, Lost Command, 1966.    Obvious first choice as the Arab officer in the Algerian war.   Sharif’s sole ambition was to pick   the British Derby winner and die – “on the same day.” 
  5. Alain Delon, Traitement de choc, France   1972.      When dining with another couples, Sharif was known to snap   when women said anything: “Do you mind.   The men are talking!”
  6. Franco Nero, Le Moine/The Monk, France, 1972.      Like O’Toole, Sharif was very keen to join Jeanne Moreau in the Luis Bu–uel film – finally made (badly) by his acolyte   Ado Kyrou.
  7. Kabir Bedi, Ashanti, 1978.     Cairo Fred, as Peter O’Toole called Sharif, had no time to be Malik, a desert guide not unlike his famous Lawrence of Arabia character, Sherif Ali. He managed to squeeze in the smaller role of Prince Hassan – with extra dialogue penned for him by Flashman author George MacDonald Fraser.
  8. Vittorio Gassman, The Nude Bomb,   1980.      Or, in some puritanical   US papers, The Return   of Maxwell Smart.  Not a patch on the Get Smart TV spy satire, 1965-1970, and minus any input from creators Mel Brooks and Buck Henry… or even the ravishing Agent 99,  Barbara Feldon.  Which is why the “comedy” won a Razzie nod as Worst Picture of the year. Quiote  a queue for the chief villain, though: Kabir Bedi, Jonathan Miller, Michael York… and Sharif, who found funnier espionage inTop Secret, 1984.
  9. Edward Woodward. Arthur The King, USA-Yugoslavia, TV, 1985.     On the short-list for Merlin with Roy Marsden and Michael Pennington. All three escaped the most absurd Arthurian saga – letting Candice Bergen and Dyan Cannon into Camelot!

 Birth year: 1932Death year: 2015Other name: Casting Calls:  9