Who is Ibrahim Koma, the “Frenchie” alongside David Tennant?


He embodies the iconic Jean Passepartout in the series Around the world in 80 days. In this modern adaptation of Jules Verne’s masterpiece, broadcast every Monday until January 3 on France 2 and available in full on France.tv, the French actor Ibrahim Koma gives the answer to one of the greatest British talent, star David Tennant. Alongside this size, the French excels in the role of resourceful and cheeky French valet. The start of an international career? “I really want it, and I’m not ashamed of it,” smiles Ibrahim Koma, during our meeting at Canneséries where the European co-production was presented as a world premiere.

At 34, Ibrahim Koma has already worked for nearly twenty years. Following in the footsteps of his brother Diouc Koma (The Red Bracelets), he took his first steps as an actor at the age of 10 in the series Navarro. Teenager, he lends his features to Zacharie Mondino, a seriously ill little orphan, in the cult soap of TF1 Under the sun..

In 2001, he landed his first lead role Adama, a teenager in search of landmarks in Didier Bivel’s comedy, Take me a vacation. In 2003, he left school and trained at the Viriot course in Paris, his performance in the feature film The Pink City earned him the title of best male hope at the Césars in 2014. The same year, he played Leslie Konda, a young football prodigy in The Botswanga crocodile.

« Are you serious, do you think you can play in front of this guy? » « 

In 2021, he is showing the third installment of‘OSS 117, Red Alert in Black Africa. He was then announced to the cast of Simon Crawford Collins’ new blockbuster. “I had tests in England, in the presence of producers and directors. When we meet there, it’s heavy, it’s impressive. I spent two and a half hours testing in front of 10 people. I’m used to taking tests, but under those conditions, we know it’s different, ”he recalls.

When he learns that he is going to play alongside the British star, he calls one of his brothers: « I tell him: ‘David Tennant is going to do Phileas Fogg’. He said to me: « Are you serious, do you think you can play in front of this guy? » »Not enough to discourage the enthusiastic Ibrahim Koma. “On the first day, you can’t help but be a bit of a spectator. You have to get rid of that quickly, but David puts you at ease, ”he says. On the set, he remembers an interview about Louis de Funès, “if he’s going too fast, hold on and follow him”. “I had this sentence in my head all the time. It helped me a lot, ”he admits.

The actor speaks English, Soninké, Bambara

The actor must play in English, a « pleasurable » exercise. “If I have learned English since I was little, it is to be able to have these opportunities. It also puts pressure because you have to be good. It’s a lot of work in pronunciation, in understanding. You also have to understand the spirit because we operate differently from the British, ”he explains.

For the actor, “gifted in languages”, being able to act in other languages, these are also “opportunities” in addition. “I speak Soninké or Bambara, two African languages. I will learn other languages. These are all opportunities to work with people who are in other worlds, new encounters, new styles of films, series, clips. I don’t want to restrict myself, ”he says.

« Passepartout wants to love and be loved »

This new adaptation of Around the world in 80 days tells according to him “a process of maturation” for the three principal characters, the gentleman Phileas Fogg (David Tennant), the intrepid Miss Fix (Léonie Benesch) and the resourceful Passepartout that he camps. « Wherever you come from, beautiful neighborhoods or not, you can identify with these people, » he believes. We all have shells, it is obvious that these three have one, they are very vulnerable and at a given moment, they accept their vulnerability, and that becomes a strength. « 

And to analyze his character: “Passepartout wants to love and be loved in return. He wants to have friends. We may be very strong, when we feel alone, we are very weak. It is this vulnerability that he has. He finds it hard to trust. It is also due to a lack of confidence in him too. He will learn to do it with them, and that’s good ”.

Wingsuit cravings

From this titanic filming on several continents in the midst of a health crisis, he remembers that “we managed to go to the end. The pressure is there, because you have to be good, and you have to add that of having the Covid or that another actor catches it ”. A game worth the candle, when he discovers the final episodes, he says to himself: « Is this real? Is this me there? I was amazed. I knew it was going to be heavy, it’s even better than I imagined. « 

His dream of adventures: “Take wings, you see wingsuit flights? Jump off the top of the mountain and fly, that’s what I’d like to do. I’m a thrill-seeker and I think this is the pinnacle! »There is no doubt that this Around the world in 80 days has already given him professional wings.

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