French-Armenian actor Simon Abkarian garnered the most attention in his career with his portrayal of Armenian-American painter Arshile Gorky in Armenian-Canadian director Atom Egoyan's "Ararat." Though the film is largely about the Armenian genocide in Turkey, its subject matter is more about the ways truth is represented within or through art. In 2004, Abkarian played a Lebanese Muslim chef who has an affair with an Irish-American microbiologist, played by Joan Allen, in the expressionist art house film "Yes." "Casino Royale," a James Bond film, helped Abkarian gain even more international and mainstream exposure; he played a Greek contractor for the main villain, Le Chiffre, and his international crime organization, in opposition to James Bond, played by Daniel Craig. The following year, Abkarian, along with notable international actors Catherine Deneuve and Chiara Mastroianni, voiced the main characters in the animated French-language version of "Persepolis," based on Marjane Satrapi's graphic-novel memoir about growing up during the Iranian Revolution. Mastroianni played Marjane, while Deneuve and Abkarian played her mother and father. Though the film was well received, Sean Penn took over the role of the father in the English version of the film, so unfortunately Abkarian's work was obscured in countries that didn't show the French version. In "The Army of Crime," Abkarian had the lead role as Armenian exile Missak Manouchian, poet and founder of a communist resistance group in the French Resistance during the Nazi occupation of France.
Cast (Feature Film)
Co-starred in the Lebanese love story, "Ana El Awan"; helmed by Jean-Claude Codsi
Cast in the French gangster drama "J'Irai Au Paradis, Car L'Enfer Est Ici" directed by Xavier Durringer
Received the Prix Moliere for his performance in "Une Bete Sur La Lune" directed by Irina Brook
Played a detective in Jonathan Demme's "The Truth About Charlie" starring Mark Wahlberg and Thandie Newton
Cast in Atom Egoyan's "Ararat" which centers around Turkey's elimination through massacre and forced deportation of its Armenian citizens in 1915
Directed several plays including an acclaimed production of "Titus Andronicus"
First lead role in the English language film "Yes," as the lover of an Irish-American scientist (Joan Allen) unhappily married to a philandering British politician (Sam Neill), directed by Sally Potter
Starred as a garment shop owner in "Almost Peaceful," a film by director Michel Deville that centers on a group of Jews in Paris shortly after World War II
Cast in "Casino Royale" the 21st James Bond film directed by Martin Campbell and starring Daniel Craig as 007
Voiced the father in "Persepolis" an animated film based on the graphic novel of the same name; written and directed by Marjane Satrapi