Omar Sharif’s Most Memorable Roles

Above: Omar Sharif (1932-2015)

Iconic actor, Omar Sharif, has passed away. The Egyptian star died of an apparent heart attack at his Cairo home on Friday July 10th at the age of 83.


One of the first Arab actors to break into Hollywood, Sharif made a mark on film with nuanced performances and graceful execution. While his career looked promising during its start in the 60s, high-profile work slowed down and the actor made more questionable on-screen decisions. Still, nothing can take away the excellent portrayals that he’s left us. With that, let’s take a look back at some of Omar Sharif’s most memorable roles.


5. Sheikh Riyadh

Hidalgo (2004)

While his name had lost much of its relevancy by the time Hidalgo premiered in 2004, co-star Viggo Mortensen was coming off of a high. Mortensen had just wrapped up his stint as Aragorn in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, a factor that played into the movie’s box office success. Sharif’s turn as Sheikh Riyadh, helped to elevate him back into the public conscious, and gave the actor an outlet outside of the bland TV movies he’d been stuck making. The role itself proved that, while out of the Hollywood spotlight, Sharif hadn’t slowed down.

4. Agent Cedric

Top Secret! (1984)

Sharif flexed his comedic muscle in this Zucker brothers classic. The film wasn’t quite as good as the writing team’s other hit, Airplane!, but it still managed to churn out some real good laughs. Sharif’s “Agent Cedric” is responsible for more than a few of Top Secret’s most popular scenes.

3. Nicky Arnstein

Funny Girl (1968)

Barbra Streisand won the Oscar for her role as Fanny Brice, but Sharif was just as integral in the rest of the musical’s fabric. Plus we get to hear him sing too, which is surprisingly not as awkward as we had all expected. The film’s success spawned a sequel in 1975, but the original has that something special.

2. Dr. Yuri Zhivago

Doctor Zhivago (1965)

David Lean’s epic won six Academy Awards and became one of the highest grossing movies of all time. Sharif’s titular character falls in love, but his mission is complicated by the conflict of war. Arguably Sharif’s most impressive performance, Zhivago remains a staple of cinematic history. The reunion at the film’s end is absolutely breathtaking.

1. Sherif Ali

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Along with classics such as Ben Hur and The Ten Commandments, Lawrence of Arabia is often cited as the greatest on-screen epic ever made. Omar Sharif’s entrance as Sherif Ali, helps to cement that title. From the moment we see Sharif in the desert horizon, we know we’re in for a ride. Ali is a badass, and there simply could not be another to deliver that same level of badassery.

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