The mini-series The snake has been available since Friday April 2 on Netflix. In this police drama, Tahar Rahim plays Charles Sobhraj, a serial killer who in the 1970s stalked Western tourists on the roads in South Asia. The French actor spoke about the difficulties encountered in entering the skin of the character.

In a recent telephone interview with Forbes, Tahar Rahim opened up about his role in the series and the difficulties he encountered in stepping into the shoes of such a cold and calculating serial killer. “At first, I couldn’t do it. It was impossible. I needed to understand how a man could act like this, ”he explains. “He was deeply cruel. “

Nonetheless, the French actor enjoys playing difficult roles and he has become famous for his ability to fully step into the skin of a character. Recently, he played Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a prisoner held in Guantanamo prison for 14 years, in the court drama Designated guilty. The film is inspired by the memories of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, The Guantanamo Notebooks (ed. Michel Lafon). This incredibly difficult role took Tahar Rahim’s career to the next level across the Atlantic. The incredible performance of the actor, who co-stars with Jodie Foster and Shailene Woodley, has earned him numerous rave reviews and accolades, including a Golden Globe nomination in the “Best Actor” category.

In the miniseries co-produced by Netflix and BBC, The snake, Tahar rahim therefore embodies a cold-blooded serial killer. This series has only eight episodes and is already causing a sensation in the UK and France. All the praise is well deserved!

Inspired by terrible real facts, the series tells the story of Charles Sobhraj, a complex psychopath, and the many attempts to bring him to justice. Charles Sobhraj and his girlfriend, Marie-Andrée Leclerc (played by Jenna Coleman) traveled through Thailand, Nepal and India between 1975 and 1976. During their travels, they targeted and trapped many tourists. They attacked travelers who walked the hippie trail (literally, the hippie track) in Southeast Asia. Once caught in their web of lies, the victims had little hope of getting out.

“I studied serial killers and what can lead a person to become one. Charles Sobhraj was abandoned by his father and abused by his mother. His behavior came from somewhere, but I still can’t figure out how one can feel no empathy. He was so cruel, so vicious. Despite everything, we had to find the answers to many questions ”, says Tahar Rahim.

Charles Sobhraj pretended to be a merchant of precious stones. With Marie-Andrée Leclerc, they were a cool, well-dressed and fun couple. This ruse allowed them to commit numerous crimes before becoming the main suspects in a series of murders of young Western travelers.

Charles Sobhraj case
Newspaper article in India, dating from February 1997, on the case of serial killer Charles Sobhraj. | Source: Getty Images

Tahar Rahim is captivating as Charles Sobhraj, but stepping into that character hasn’t been easy. To truly play the serial killer, the actor took a different approach. He explains that usually he creates a character from the inside out. This time, however, he went from the outside to the inside.

“I studied serial killers and what can lead a person to become one. Charles Sobhraj was abandoned by his father and abused by his mother. His behavior came from somewhere, but I still can’t figure out how one can feel no empathy. He was so cruel, so vicious. Despite everything, we had to find the answers to many questions, ”says Tahar Rahim.

The French actor worked with the director Tom Shankland, and the two of them managed to put some pieces of the puzzle together. A reply was essential for Tahar Rahim. “He says something like, ‘If I had to wait for the world to come to me, I would always wait. Whatever I wanted, I had to take it ”. That’s where it came to me, because that’s what happened to me as an actor. “

Originally from Belfort, Tahar rahim had no connection with Hollywood. “I came from the countryside, from a large family, and had no ties to acting at all and it was difficult. He faced many obstacles and, with very little money, moved to the city to study cinema. “I knew if I wanted to be an actor, I had to. This fight is the only connection I have found with Charles. “

Charles Sobhraj had a charisma that allowed him to deceive so many people. Tahar Rahim really thought about how this master of manipulation could approach his prey. He wouldn’t take a straightforward approach, he would slip to the side. It would be subtle and sweet. The actor therefore thought of the snake, and more precisely of the cobra. “The cobra is hypnotic. When it hunts its prey, it remains very calm at first. And then suddenly he bites. “

“I would like the public to understand that this series does not glorify his crimes. She celebrates the strength and bravery of those who came together to stop her. “

By then, it was too late for all of his victims. However, every killer makes a mistake. In the case of Charles Sobhraj, his inordinate pride caused his downfall. When the remains of a Dutch couple are discovered, the case lands on the desk of Herman Knippenberg (played by Billy Howle), a young diplomat from the Dutch Embassy in Bangkok. As things progress, Herman Knippenberg becomes obsessed with this matter. With his wife Angela (played by Ellie Bamber), they begin their own investigation. They are eventually joined by police officers from around the world and by witnesses to the underhand manipulation of Charles Sobhraj.

After some time and a trail of corpses, everything collapses around Charles Sobhraj. He becomes the most wanted man by Interpol and numerous arrest warrants have been issued against him on several continents. Regarding the series, Tahar Rahim wants things to be clear. “I would like the public to understand that this series does not glorify his crimes. She celebrates the strength and bravery of those who came together to stop her. “

For Tahar Rahim, this role was an acting dream. “I always wanted to explore evil in a character and this time I did. It’s very interesting for an actor. I couldn’t find a character further from me and my true nature than Charles. It was a great experience. “

Article translated from Forbes US – Author: Dana Feldman

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