Tahar Rahim is a French actor who is best known for his performances in the French film A Prophet (2009) and British-American film ‘The Mauritanian’ (2021). He is also known for his role as ‘Charles Sobhraj‘ in the BBC One-Netflix miniseries ‘The Serpent’ (2021).
Tahar Rahim was born on Saturday, July 4, 1981 (age 40 years; as of 2021), in Belfort, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region, France.
Tahar did his baccalauréat from Lycée Condorcet, Belfort (also known as General And Technological High School Condorcet De Belfort). In 2000, Tahar admitted himself to a sports college in Strasbourg, where he pursued his major in swimming. Soon, he found himself bored and quit the course after a year. The following year, he pursued a computer science course at a college in Marseille; he got bored again and dropped out in two months. Realizing his passion for acting, he began his film studies at the Paul Valéry University, Montpellier, France. MensXP In 2005, he moved to Paris, where he studied drama at Laboratoire De L’acteur-Hélène Zidi. Madame Le Figaro Simultaneously, he worked part-time to pay for his expenses; he worked at a factory during the week and a nightclub at weekends.
Height (approx.): 5′ 8″
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Brown
Family & Ethnicity
Parents & Siblings
When his family lived in Algeria, his father was a teacher, and upon their migration to France, his father became a worker. Tahar is one of the ten children of his parents; one of his brothers’ name is Ahmed Rahim.
Wife & Children
The French-Algerian actress Leïla Bekhti is Tahar’s wife. Tahar and Bekhti met for the first time on the sets of ‘A Prophet’ and began dating.
Rahim and Bekhti have two children, a son named Souleymane (born in July 2017) and a daughter (born in February 2020).
In September 2006, Tahar made his film debut with the American film ‘The 9/11 Commission Report’ in which he played the role of a ‘Taliban interrogator.’
In 2007, Tahir made his debut in the French film industry with the Horror film ‘Inside’ in the role of a ‘policeman.’
In 2009, he gave his breakthrough performance in the French prison crime film ‘A Prophet’ in which he played the lead role of ‘Malik El-Djebena.’
After A Prophet, he starred in the French films Les Hommes libres (2011), The Informant (2013), The Anarchists (2015), The Price of Success (2017), and Treat Me Like Fire (2018). In 2011, he played the main role of ‘Prince of the Seal People’ in the American-British historical drama film ‘The Eagle.’
The same year, he was seen in the French-Chinese film ‘Love and Bruises’ in which he played the lead role of ‘Mathieu.’
He starred in various French-Belgian co-produced films like Our Children (2012), Le Père Noël (2014), Daguerrotype (also Japanese; 2016), and Heal the Living (2016). He also made appearances in several internationally co-produced films like The Past (2013), The Cut (2014), Mary Magdalene (2018), and The Kindness of Strangers (2019). In 2021, Tahar Rahim was cast in the lead role of ‘Mohamedou Ould Slahi’ in the American-British legal film ‘The Mauritanian.’ The film is based on the real-life person Mohamedou Ould Slahi, who was captured by the US government without any charges, kept at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, and deprived of trial for fourteen years. Tahar was widely appreciated for his portrayal of Slahi. While talking about the preparation of the role in an interview, Tahar Rahim said,
It was tough. I did my homework, I read his book, I listened to audio about him and watched videos to understand his psychology but at a certain point there’s something that you cannot know without experiencing it physically, so to reach those dark places I needed some realistic conditions physically to just taste it. My job is to make it bigger, to magnify it, for example I wanted the team to shackle me with real shackles, not fake ones, so I could feel what Mohamedou has been through. The bruises I got, I kept them for weeks and I got shackled for real for only two days. For the torture scenes, one thing they would do was throw their detainee in a very cold cell so I asked the team to make it as cold as possible and spray me with water so I could feel what’s the real state physically and I got waterboarded for real, we had a sign in case. I also did a drastic diet, I lost 10-12kg within three weeks.”
In 2007, he debuted in the French television industry with the series ‘La Commune’ in the role of ‘Yazid Fikry.’
He then worked in films and later appeared in the French TV series ‘Bref.’ (2012). In 2016, Tahar was seen in the starring role of ‘Khalil Rachedi’ in the French-British TV series ‘The Last Panthers.’
In 2018, he made his American television debut with the series ‘The Looming Tower’ in which he played ‘Ali Soufan.’
In 2021, he starred as ‘Charles Sobhraj‘ in the British TV series ‘The Serpent,’ which was co-produced by BBC One and Netflix. According to Tahar, he was attracted to the role of Charles because he read ‘The Life and Times of Charles Sobhraj’ by Richard Neville and Julie Clarke, a book he read as a fourteen-year-old teen. Each time he read the book, he desired to play ‘Charles.’ Tahar also wanted to play Charles because he wanted to explore evil in a character. In an interview, he said,
In 2001 or so William Friedkin was prepping a movie about him with Benicio del Toro so I forgot about that and then I got an email 20 years later saying yep you got that offer, so it’s a bit different. But apart from him, it’s fascination and repulsion that are generally not conceivable that become automatically attractive to try and challenge yourself.”
Awards & Honor
- Officier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2017
- CinEuphoria Awards for Best Actor – International Competition for ‘A Prophet’ in 2011
- Prix Patrick Dewaere in 2010
- Dublin Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor for ‘A Prophet’ in 2010
- Étoiles d’Or, France for Best Male Newcomer (Révélation masculin) for ‘A Prophet’ in 2010
- César Awards for Best Actor and Most Promising Actor for ‘A Prophet’ in 2010
- Lumières Award for Best Actor for ‘A Prophet’ in 2010
- Globe de Cristal Awards for Best Actor for ‘A Prophet’ in 2010
- European Film Award for Best Actor for ‘A Prophet’ in 2009
- Food: Algerian Kefta, Roga, Harsha, Kahel, Taham, Felfela
- Beverage: Espresso
- American Filmmaker(s): Jerry Schatzberg, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Brian De Palma, Paul Thomas Anderson, James Gray, Courtney Hunt, Gaspard Noé, Ken Loach, Wim Wenders, Nicholas Winding Refn, William Friedkin
- French Filmmaker(s): Julien Duvivier, Marcel Carné, Jean Grémillon
- Mexican Filmmaker: Alejandro González Iñárritu
- Actor(s): Robert De Niro, Xavier Beauvois, Paul Meurisse, Lino Ventura, Mark Strong
- Film(s): Scarecrow (1973), Blow Out (1981), Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), Pusher series, The Exorcist series, Old Boy (2003), Memories of Murder (2003)
- TV Series: The Sopranos (1999), The Wire (2002), Breaking Bad (2008), Peaky Blinders (2013), Mindhunter (2017), Chernobyl (2019)
- Singer(s): Umm Kulthum, Édith Piaf, Cheikha Rimitti
- Rapper: Tupac Shakur
- Band(s): Daft Punk, Queen
- Song(s): Do You Wanna Funk by Patrick Cowley and Sylvester, Dear Mama by Tupac Shakur
- Travel Destination(s): India, Thailand
- In his leisure time, Tahar likes to travel. In his teens, he decided that he would travel the world to seek his profession if he failed to become an actor. In an interview, talking about traveling, he said,
I love traveling because I’m a big fan of the culture of others. I think it makes you a richer person inside of yourself – it feeds you as a human being. It’s always good to discover new people, new cultures, new music, new movies.”
- Tahar became interested in Cinema and how it worked when he was a teenager. In his teens, he began visiting movie theaters; he would visit theaters four times a week and watch three films in a row until he got a headache.
- In his teens, he liked to draw and was good at it. He drew Japanese anime characters as he was a fan of Japanese animation. At a point, he even began selling his drawings. When he was around sixteen he abandoned drawing because of his newfound love for cinema. During the COVID pandemic, amid the lockdown in France, he discovered his love for drawing again. In an interview, he talked about it and said,
I feel good. It’s another way to escape from reality, like movies. I love to draw with my son, who’s three years old, so that’s what we do together. I needed an activity to keep myself busy, so I started to teach him how to draw. My son likes comic book characters, so I draw them for him, but I like to draw faces. I can’t draw from memory, so when I’m alone, I take a picture of a friend or a family member – a face that I like – and I draw it. It feels good to be doing it, especially in a moment like this.”
- In October 2005, Tahar appeared in a French documentary titled ‘Tahar l’etudiant’ by Cyril Mennegun. The documentary was based on Tahar’s journey as a student of Paul Valéry University.
- From 2007 to 2008, Tahar was a part of the play ‘Libres sont les papillons’ in which he played the blind character named ‘Benjamin.’ The play took place at Côté Court Theater, 11th arrondissement of Paris, and was directed by Hélène Zidi-Chéruy and written by Leonard Gershe.
- In 2015, he was chosen to be on the jury for the Un Certain Regard section of the year’s Cannes Film Festival.
- Tahar has been on the covers of French, US, and UK magazines such as Glass Magazine, Paris Match, Flaunt, British GQ, Apollo, Vanity Fair, Le Parisien, and Vogue.
- In an interview, Tahar said that if he ever got a chance to portray a real-life person in the middle east, he would choose to portray ‘Emir Abdelkader.’ Emir is an Algerian religious and military leader who became the leader of the struggle against the French colonial invasion in the mid-19th century.
- Tahir is also interested in languages and always seeks to learn new languages and master them. He is fluent in French, English, Arabic, and Spanish.
- A sports enthusiast, Tahir played sports such as football, boxing, and swimming in his teen years.