Born and raised in Montreal, the grandson of legendary actor Omar Sharif is one complicated guy. Self described as: “Egyptian/Canadian, Muslim/Jewish, model/actor/writer/activist,” Omar enjoyed a successful run as an teen actor in Egyptian television and film.Today he is becoming world renowned for his advocacy of human and gay rights. As is Oscar tradition for Hollywood royalty offspring, Omar was invited to be the trophy presenter at the 83rd Academy Awards in 2011, and engaged in a memorable comic scene on stage with the iconic Kirk Douglas. Though now living in LA, Omar still considers himself a Montréaler at heart and will always be a die-hard Habs fan.
Where have you lived in Montreal?
I’ve lived in Cote-St Luc, Chomedy, and Old Montreal for periods of time, and each community has enriched my life in different ways.
How often do you visit?
I try to make it back every 3 months because after that I go into poutine withdrawal and need my fix. I also try to time a visit (fix) to coincide with the Habs season opener, family holidays and observances, friend’s weddings and – God willing – Habs playoff games!
What is your favourite neighbourhood?
Old Montreal. After spending time in modern US cities it feels like a form of escapism without the transatlantic flight. Always fun to head down there, grab a bite, see a play at the Centaur Theatre, hit the bars and walk along the Old Port. Either that, or you can just circle around looking for parking until you ultimately go home in bitter defeat.
What are you favourite restaurants?
That’s like asking me my favourite Backstreet Boy – I just can’t do it! That said, a trip back home must include Moishe’s Steakhouse or Schwartz’s. They are more than just restaurants – they’re traditions. I also like Garde Manger, and I’m happy eating a healthy Vietnamese soup at Hoai Huong, too.
Where do you go to play in Montreal?
Anywhere my friends and family are is fine by me. That can be New City Gas, Midtown le Sporting Club Sanctuaire, The Bell Centre, La Ronde, Mount Royal Park, or in someone’s basement in Dollard-des-Ormeaux.
What are your favourite watering holes/cafes?
I like grabbing a casual drink at Monkland Tavern or at Burgundy Lion. I’m a pretty casual guy, so if I can wear sweatpants out- I do. As for coffee, it doesn’t matter where it’s from as long as it’s rich, hot, and capable of keeping me up all night long… wait, we’re still talking about coffee right?
Who are your favourite local celebrities?
By far, the Montreal Canadiens! But ‘celebrities’ might be the wrong word. Hockey is more of a religion, so, ‘prophets’ maybe? I also like Chef Harley Morenstein of Epic Meal Time. It’s always a thrill bumping into him in LA. Sometimes I discreetly try to smell his beard hoping to get a clue as to what he’s been cooking. Oh, and I can’t forget UFC Champion Georges St-Pierre. I developed a great appreciation for him when I took boxing at Tristar Gym.
What’s your favourite Montreal memory?
There are so many, but one that really stands out is being hoisted on my uncle Holden’s shoulders during the 1993 Stanley Cup Parade. The legion of people in attendance and the excitement of the crowd is something that will stay with me forever.
Complete this sentence: “You know you’re in Montreal when…
On every block of every street there are at least three people that you know, and they’re all wearing Canada Goose jackets… unless it’s summer.
Follow Omar on twitter @OmarSharifJr or via his Facebook .