|REEL FACE:||REAL FACE:|
Born: March 7, 1956
Hollywood, California, USA
Philippe Pozzo di Borgo
Born: February 14, 1951
Birthplace: Tunis, Tunisia
Born: July 6, 1979
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Born: abt 1972
Renamed Dell in the Movie
Born: June 20, 1967
Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
Renamed Yvonne in the Movie
Yes. The Upside true story reveals that the real-life paragliding accident happened in the Savoyard reliefs of Mont Bisanne in the Swiss Alps in 1993 when Philippe was 42. He had been distracted by thoughts of the workers he had laid off and hadn’t been paying enough attention to what he was doing. As a result, he crashed. Philippe remained in the hospital for two years before he was able to go home. At the same time, his wife was dying of cancer.
Wealthy Corsican French businessman Philippe Pozzo di Borgo was 42 when he became a quadriplegic after a 1993 paragliding accident.
Yes. "I'm disabled, but he is also a little bit disabled," said Philippe Pozzo di Borgo, the real-life individual on whom Bryan Cranston's character is based. "In his case, he was socially very disabled, coming out of jail, basically. So, he has a problem. I have to understand his problem, and once we both understand each other's problem, then we are in a very close confidence relationship." Abdel Yasmin Sellou, who inspired Kevin Hart's character, was a career criminal from Algeria who had been in prison for nearly two years. His name was changed from Abdel to Dell for the movie. -The Intouchables Premiere Interview
The Upside true story confirms that Philippe's ex-con caretaker, Abdel Sellou, only applied for the job so that he could get government support, which required him to be employed. His counselor had encouraged him to apply for the position. At the time he was hired, Abdel was 21 and Philippe 42. Similar to the movie, he was given a private apartment in Philippe’s home. Abdel had no intentions of sticking around long helping a disabled person and his ailing wife. Abdel even stole a Faberge egg during his job interview.
Yes. As indicated by the photos at the top, Nicole Kidman's character in the movie, Yvonne, is based on Philippe Pozzo di Borgo's real-life female assistant, Laurence Landouc'h (pictured below, right). The affection and budding romance between Yvonne and Bryan Cranston's character in the movie is fictional. In his memoir, Philippe never mentions that their relationship was anything more than professional.
Yes. After interviewing around 90 people, like in the movie, Philippe knew immediately that Abdel was the one. "This is the guy I need," Philippe recalled in an interview with The Telegraph. "I don't give a damn that he is out of jail. I needed him. And he became a friend afterwards." Philippe said that the fact that they were both on the fringes of society, he a disabled person and Abdel a criminal, created a common bond between them. Like in The Upside movie, they also shared a similar sense of humor. "He didn't feel sorry for me," said Philippe. "He was irreverent, cheeky and had an outrageous sense of humor" (Mirror Online).
While both men are short with relatively square faces, Philippe's real-life caretaker, Abdel Sellou, is an Algerian Muslim, not a black American. Like his onscreen counterpart, Abdel was indeed hot-tempered and accustomed to solving disputes with his fists, something that he has since given up. -The Telegraph
One of nine children, Abdel says that he was “the devil” of his family from an early age. At 4, he was sent to Paris to live with relatives. By age 10, he was stealing and trying to extort his schoolmates. It didn’t take long for his run-ins with the police to begin and he eventually dropped out of school. He spent his time coming up with ways to steal from the tourists who roamed the streets of Paris.
After a long battle with cancer, Philippe Pozzo di Borgo's wife Béatrice died in 1996, roughly three years after his paragliding accident. This means that in real life, Philippe's first wife was alive for almost three years after his caretaker, Abdel Sellou, was hired in 1993.
Yes. "What I can tell you is that he drove like mad," says Philippe. "He had no idea how to handle a car at 200 kilometers an hour, which he did drive with no permit, of course no driving license, for ten years. So, that's one stupid thing I accepted from him." -The Intouchables Premiere Interview
Many of the wild things that Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart's characters do in the movie were inspired by the real-life exploits of Philippe Pozzo di Borgo and his caretaker Abdel Sellou. Together, they made a game of speeding through Paris in Philippe's Rolls-Royce until the police pulled them over. Abdel would then explain that the reason they were speeding was because Philippe was having a seizure. Not only didn't they get a ticket, the police would escort them to the closest hospital.
Another thing Abdel did was have Philippe's wheelchair modified so that it was capable of going as fast as 9mph, with Abdel riding on the back like Kevin Hart's character does in the movie. The chair had a wing mirror and an onboard computer that allowed Philippe to execute a variety of tasks, including opening windows and using his phone.
"I suddenly found I was enjoying life again," says Philippe, "feeling like I didn’t know what was coming next." -The Telegraph
Yes. In researching The Upside true story, we learned that Abdel was indeed a womanizer. After his time working with Philippe came to an end, he did settle down and got married. He now operates a poultry farm in Algeria and has three children who call Philippe their "uncle."
"Back then I would not even have asked those questions about settling down," says Abdel. "I was just interested in women as the equivalent of fast food. I'm now settled, squeezed into my new life, but I am still a man and I tell it loudly, which people don't usually. I still like women." -The Telegraph
Yes. "That was true," says Philippe. "He said it would help me. In fact, it doesn't help. It takes away the pain and puts me to sleep for two hours, but I wake up feeling tired. First time I tried it I was 48." -The Telegraph
Yes. The pain we see Bryan Cranston's character endure in the movie is very much based on the real Philippe's constant battle with pain. "Phantom pain my ass," says Philippe. "It's very real. It's a neurological pain. Scalding and corrosive. Constantly on fire. I cry because I am in actual pain, not because I'm sad." -The Telegraph
Yes. As he explained in his memoir A Second Wind, he tried to commit suicide once in 1993 by wrapping his oxygen tube around his neck and jerking backwards. "It is quite common this reaction, when the pain gets too bad. I attempted it because I felt guilty that I was going to be a burden on others who had to look after me," said Philippe. "It was unbearable because I was always in charge and then all of a sudden I was dependent, especially on a wife who was ill." Philippe says that he no longer thinks about suicide. "I would be very sad if I had succeeded in killing myself 19 years ago, because I have enjoyed the 19 years that came after that," he told The Telegraph in 2012.
Yes. Philippe Pozzo di Borgo is a Christian. Though not included in The Upside movie, Philippe has a strong faith and even had a small chapel included when he had his house built. -The Telegraph
Abdel Sellou, who is renamed Dell and portrayed by Kevin Hart in the movie, worked as Philippe Pozzo di Borgo's caregiver for ten years. “According to [his memoirs], I have changed his life," Philippe stated. "That may be true, but in any case, what I am certain of is that he changed mine.” -Mirror Online
Yes. In the decades after he lost his first wife Béatrice to cancer, Philippe remarried, tying the knot with a Muslim woman named Khadija. He met her while on a trip to Morocco with Abdel, who also met the woman he would marry. "Abdel and I finished our collaboration when we both found our soul mates," said Philippe. "We finished our time together without sadness or difficulty." -Le Figaro.fr
Philippe and his wife have three daughters; two are hers biologically and the other they adopted. He moved from France to his wife's home country of Morocco where he currently resides. -The Telegraph
Peer deeper into The Upside true story by watching the documentary below that focuses on the relationship between Philippe Pozzo di Borgo and Abdel Sellou.