‘Top Secret!’ Director on Omar Sharif: ‘A Great Sport in the Face of Our Repeated Assaults on His Dignity’ (Exclusive)

David Zucker, who co-directed the acclaimed actor in the 1984 comedy, also says, “His death is a great loss to cinema”

Last Updated: July 10, 2015 @ 7:36 PM

David Zucker, famed Hollywood veteran known for writing and producing “The Naked Gun” and directing “Scary Movie,” is mourning actor Omar Sharif’s passing.

Sharif, who died Thursday of a heart attack in Cairo at age 83, worked with Zucker on the 1984 comedy “Top Secret!”

Though Sharif earned an Oscar nomination for “Lawrence of Arabia” and starred in classics like “Doctor Zhivago,” Zucker recalled forcing the Egyptian actor to endure all sorts of silliness for “Top Secret!” — from exploding cigars to whipped cream in the face.

Through it all, Zucker told TheWrap in a statement, “Omar was a great sport in the face of our repeated assaults on his dignity.”

Zucker added, “His death is a loss to the cinema, but due to that brief but wonderful stint on ‘Top Secret!’ — to comedy as well.”

Read Zucker’s full statement below.

“It was a pleasure. Along with my brother, Jerry and Jim Abrahams, Omar Sharif was the highlight of that wonderful Summer of 1984 in London where we shot ‘Top Secret!’ Whether encased in a metal block, squirted in the eye with windshield wiper fluid, in the face with whipped cream, or an exploded cigar, Omar wore it all with a resigned earnestness that made it all the funnier. Personally, Omar was a great sport in the face of our repeated assaults on his dignity. After his portion of the shooting concluded, we were proud to host him as the guest of honor at a lavish dinner at Jerry’s flat in Chelsea. All the important figures of the production were invited, as well as some from other productions then filming at Pinewood Studios. Knowing Omar’s reputation as a gourmet and wine connoisseur, we prepared a feast like nothing we’d ever done before or since. The party was fabulous, the dinner and wines unbelievable. The only down side of the occasion was that Omar never showed up. We never found out why, (perhaps too polite to decline) but we aways carried the pleasant memories of having had the chance to work with this great actor. His resume included some of the great serious films of the last half century. His death is a loss to the cinema, but due to that brief but wonderful stint on ‘Top Secret!’ — to comedy as well.”