• France's news in English

No return to grace for French cinema's bad boy

Dan MacGuill · 28 Jun 2013, 16:11

Published: 28 Jun 2013 16:11 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Who is Samy Naceri?

He is an award-winning 51-year-old actor, best known for his role in the massively popular ‘Taxi’ movies, and for being the hell-raising wild man of French cinema.

Why is he in the news this week?

At around 5am on Sunday morning he was involved in a fight on the streets of Paris, where he was attacked by a group of men while appearing to be highly intoxicated.

Tell me more.

Well, almost inevitably in this day and age, the whole thing was recorded and posted on YouTube.

The blurry amateur footage shows a seriously drunk-looking Naceri staggering about on a street near the Champs Elysées.

Naceri gets into an altercation with a group of men, who annoyed him “because they were selling cocaine like the Pakistanis sell flowers to everyone,” he told RTL.

After that, the punches and kicks start flying, Naceri is knocked to the ground several times, crashes into passing traffic, and by the end, his shirt bloodied, appears to be in a very bad state indeed.

Earlier this week it was thought Naceri would be charged with acts of violence, but he now only faces charges of damaging property, namely breaking a car window.

The whole affair has featured heavily in this week’s news media, and Naceri has appeared a somewhat sorry sight on French TV, defending himself indignantly through his broken teeth.

He has denied being drunk at the time, although hasn’t yet explained why he appears to be so, in the video.

Naceri, showing his scars to BFMTV earlier this week.

Presumably the French public are a bit shocked by this incident?

Actually, not particularly. Sort of like a French Charlie Sheen, Naceri is notorious by now, and has been in and out of prison for more than 10 years.

In fact, despite being a well-loved and very talented actor, there’s a real sense now that the French, or at least its media, are losing their patience with Naceri.

French daily Le Parisien set the context for Sunday’s conflagration by referring to his appearance at May’s Cannes Film Festival.

“After his umpteenth ‘return to grace’ at Cannes, Samy Naceri has once again found himself in trouble with the law,” the paper wearily reported.

What else has he done?

His career as an actor is pretty packed, but unfortunately, so is his criminal rap sheet. His full name might as well be “Samy Naceri Encore” (Samy Naceri again) since so many reports about his shenanigans start that way.

A brief resumé: In 2007 he was sentenced to 10 months in prison for attacking a stylist (or drug dealer, depending on who you believe) with an ashtray at a Paris restaurant. Naceri was outraged that the victim had kept him waiting, and left him needing 30 stitches.

In December 2006 he hit the headlines by being given a six-month sentence for racially abusing a black police officer, after having mixed alcohol and medication.

In 2007 he was also accused of attempted murder after stabbing a nightclub security guard in Aix-en-Provence.

In 2011 a bouncer at one of Luc Besson’s parties in Cannes determined that, despite Naceri’s invite, he wasn’t in an appropriate state to enter.

Naceri flew into a rage, hurling racial abuse at the black bouncer, throwing his arms about wildly, and generally screaming complete nonsense at whoever would listen, according to witnesses.

The list goes on; verbally abusing air hostesses, threatening to carry out the fatwa on British author Salman Rushdie, more fights with police and security guards, drinking and driving, possession of heroin, and at least two charges of exposing his genitals in public.

Story continues below…

Happier times. Naceri (centre right) with French Oscar-winner and 'Taxi 2'
castmate Marion Cotillard, and director Luc Besson (far right), at Cannes in 2000.
(Photo: Pascal Guyot/AFP)

What does he have to say for himself?

“I wasn’t drunk, like the papers are saying. You’ve got to stop adding in words, just to destroy the career of a guy who’s trying to keep his head above water,” he told French radio RTL earlier this week.

What do others say about him?

“Don’t let me down,” French film director Luc Besson told Naceri, after letting him know he had landed his breakthrough role as Marseillaise taxi driver Daniel Morales, in the 1998 hit ‘Taxi.’

This is the amateur footage of Sunday morning's attack on Naceri, on the streets of Paris. Naturally, it contains images of violence that some readers might find disturbing, as well as some bad language (in French.)

Naceri can be seen wearing a dark, open jacket and white shirt.

The Local's French Face of the Week is a person in the news who - for good or ill - has revealed something interesting about the country. Being selected as French Face of the Week is not necessarily an endorsement.

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

UK border must move back, says 'next French president'
Photo: AFP

If favourite Alain Juppé is elected, Britain and France are in for some difficult negotiations.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available