From the moment Daizy decided she would share the real Lebanon with the world through film, she knew she needed someone remarkable to help tell the story.
The man she had her mind – and her heart – set on, was actor Omar Sharif.
With the same determination that saw her delve into the crazy journey of film making, Daizy made it her mission to find him.
Her first approach was to contact Sharif’s agent, who quickly told her there was no interest, and not only that, there would be no way Daizy could afford him.
However, this would prove but a minor setback for Daizy, who wasn’t about to take no for an answer, unless it came from the man himself.
While in Lebanon to commence filming, Daizy’s sister, Grace Gedeon, a corporate lawyer at the time, put out some feelers, soon discovering Omar Sharif was in the South of France shooting a film of his own.
Daizy immediately flew to Paris to get closer to Sharif. Whilst sitting in a café in Place de la Bastille contemplating her next moves, Daizy began talking to a group of people who were so intrigued with her story, they decided they wanted to help. One guy, an Aussie who had been living in Paris for some years and spoke fluent French, took the lead, saying: “We should go to my place and pull out the Yellow Pages and call all the hotels along the southern border of France until we find him.”
And that is exactly what they did. By 11pm that night they had located Omar Sharif. He and the film crew were staying in a magnificent historic Chateaux on the outskirts of Marseilles. Daizy called the Chateaux, booked a room and a flight for the very next morning and thanked her dear new friend, Simon Bond (whose voice and behaviour had the debonair charm of James Bond ? for his selfless and relentless determination to help make this dream come true. And then as quick as a flash, Daizy was off to Marseille.
By midday the next day, Daizy was wheeling her luggage into the foyer of the Chateaux, which looked more like a grand French Estate. She approached the ornate front desk with its high bench and checked in. As the Clerk turned to retrieve Daizy’s room key, the nosy journalist popped her head over the bench to find the room register book open and Sharif’s room number simply jumped right up at her. Taking a mental note, Daizy slipped back into casual mode just as the Clerk turned back.
As soon as she arrived at her room, with no time to waste, Daizy dialled the numbers to Sharif’s room. He answered. She cleared her throat, explained who she was and asked if she could talk to him about her film. He told her to meet him in the bar at 6pm.
And that’s exactly what she did. She arrived early and waited, to practice what she would say.
Then at exactly 6pm, Sharif walked into the small, quiet bar and with only two other people in the room, easily identified Daizy. He sat quietly for twenty minutes – arms and legs folded – as he listened to Daizy share her vision for the film.
When she had finally finished speaking, it quickly became apparent that the immense passion Daizy felt for Lebanon, its people and their plight, was shared in equal measure by Sharif.
So impressed was he by her vision for the film, Sharif agreed to participate upon reading the final script.
From there, it was full steam ahead, as Sharif embraced his role, helping to tell Lebanon’s story just as Daizy had dreamed he would.
A consummate professional, Daizy knew she would struggle to pay the man his worth. However, he was so compelled to tell Daizy’s story, he didn’t charge a single cent.
Best known in the west for his roles in films such as Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago and Funny Girl, Egyptian-born but of Lebanese heritage, Omar Sharif is an Academy Award nominated actor, winning three Golden Globe Awards and a Cesar Award.
Multi-talented, Sharif was multilingual, fluently speaking English, Arabic, French, Spanish and Italian, and held degrees in mathematics and physics. He converted to Islam after marrying his first wife, the iconic Egyptian actress Faten Hamama, with whom he had one child.
It was his role in Lawrence of Arabia that earned him his Oscar nomination and two of his Golden Globes. His third Golden Globe was for his role in Doctor Zhivago.
Passionate about cultural diversity and equality, Sharif received the inaugural Sergei Eisenstein Medal by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.
Omar Sharif passed away from a heart attack on July 10, 2015, in Cairo, Egypt.