The uplifting 2011 film The Intouchables has become one of the most popular French films of the decade. Did you know that the story of the friendship between a poor immigrant and a paralyzed businessman was real?
Millionaire Philippe Pozzo di Borgo (François Cluzet) is a native of a Corsican noble family that dates back to the early 16th century. He began his career in the champagne industry and eventually became the director of the Pommery winery. Moreover, Pozzo di Borgo inherited a luxurious mansion in Paris.
Philippe di Borgo became a diabetic quadriplegic in 1993 following a paragliding accident. Three years later, his wife died of cancer. In the hospital, he attempted to commit suicide by wrapping an oxygen tube around his neck. If it not for his caregiver, he would probably make the second attempt to end his life.
French actor and comedian Omar Sy portrayed the cheeky caregiver Bakary “Driss” Bassari. In real life, his name was Abdel Sellou, an Algerian immigrant with a dark past who served time in prison. The man was 21 years old when he met Philippe and agreed to become his caregiver.
Anne Le Ny’s character Yvonne is also based on a real person — Philippe’s assistants named Laurence Language. She witnessed with her own eyes how her boss and a young immigrant became close friends and changed each other’s life for the better.