The Schmooze

'Jerry Seinfeld of France' Gets Serious

“A Costa-Gavras Film” atop a marquee or movie poster is the equivalent of the old Good Housekeeping magazine seal of approval: a guarantee that the movie will be well acted, intelligent and politically charged.

In “Capital,” the Greek-French director probably best known for “Z,” “State of Siege” and “Missing” doesn’t disappoint. Here he targets the international banking system, which not only has the wherewithal but also the will to tear down the world economy in its pursuit of still another penny of profit.

Costa-Gavras’s choice for the lead, Gad Elmaleh, is as interesting as the film. Elmaleh, 42, plays Marc Tourneil, new head of the Phenix Bank, who will do anything and step over anyone in pursuit of riches. What makes his selection unusual is that Gad, a Moroccan-born Jew, is a comedian. In fact, he’s known as the Jerry Seinfeld of France.

Elmaleh has mastered Moroccan Arabic, Hebrew, French and a passable English. While he occasionally reached for a word, he spoke to The Arty Semite about how he got the part, being directed by the likes of Costa-Gavras and Steven Spielberg, and the tradition of tolerance in Morocco.

Curt Schleier: You’re a comedian. You don’t seem like a logical choice for this part.

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'Jerry Seinfeld of France' Gets Serious

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