Magazine article Variety

Sharif's Versatility Made Him an Acting Chameleon

Magazine article Variety

Sharif's Versatility Made Him an Acting Chameleon

Article excerpt

There is a shot in "Doctor Zhivago" in which Omar Sharif's face is almost entirely veiled in shadow, focused on the woman who will soon become his lover. For all the visual sweep of David Lean's 1965 romance, it contains few images this telling or revealing: Here was a gaze for the audience to lose itself in. In a career that could seem as much about pageantry as performance, his eyes served as the proverbial windows to the soul.

The improbable 1960s career ascent of Sharif - a rare sex symbol and movie star of Middle Eastern provenance - came about largely through a convergence of magnetism, range and irresistible good looks. But it was also due to his exotic appeal to an industry that has never been known for its racially sensitive casting; surely no other actor has been called upon to play both Genghis Khan and Che Guevara. And Sharif's choices received criticism aplenty over the years; his turn as Jewish gangster Nicky Arnstein in "Funny Girl," opposite Barbra Streisand, caused a scandal in the Egyptian press. …

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