Med Hondo (born Mohamed Abid Hondo; 4 May 1936 – 2 March 2019) was a Mauritanian-born French actor, producer, screenwriter and film director. He emigrated to France in 1959 and began to work in film during the 1960s. He received critical acclaim for his 1970 directorial début Soleil O.

Med Hondo
Med Hondo.jpg
Mohamed Abid Hondo

(1936-05-04)4 May 1936
Died2 March 2019(2019-03-02) (aged 82)
Paris, France
  • Actor
  • producer
  • screenwriter
  • film director
Years active1967–2013


Hondo was born in 1936 in Ain Oul Beri Mathar in the Atar region of Mauritania. His mother was Mauritanian and his father Senegalese.[1][2] In 1954 Hondo went to Rabat, Morocco, to train to become a chef at the International Hotel School there.[1][3] He emigrated to France in 1959 and found work first in Marseille and then in Paris, variously as a cook, farm labourer, waiter, dockworker and delivery man.[1][2] He found that he and other African immigrants were unable to gain work in their chosen professions, and in the menial jobs they could find, they were paid less than the French.[3] The difficulty of making a living during this time, as well as the racism he experienced, eventually provided inspiration for his films, including Soleil O and Les Bicots-nègres, vos voisins.[4]

Hondo began to take classes in acting and directing, and studied under French actress Françoise Rosay, acting in classic plays by Shakespeare, Molière and Jean Racine.[1][3] He was unable to fully express himself with French repertoire theatre, and in 1966 formed his own theatre company with Guadeloupean actor Robert Liensol.[1][4] Named Shango (from Shango, the Yoruba god of thunder), and later Griot-Shango, the company produced plays relating the experiences of Black people, including works by René Depestre and Aimé Césaire.[1][3][5]

In the late 1960s, Hondo started taking small roles in television and films.[6] He began to learn the craft of film making by careful observation of the work of others, and began to get work behind the camera.[4][6] He began work on his first film, Soleil O, in 1965.[7] Made on a $30,000 budget, it was financed by Hondo's work dubbing American films into French.[8] Soleil O played during International Critics' Week at the 1970 Cannes Film Festival, where it received critical acclaim.[9] It received a Golden Leopard award at the 1970 Locarno International Film Festival.[10] In 1981 he was a member of the jury at the 12th Moscow International Film Festival.[11]

Hondo also worked frequently as a voice actor. He worked on the dubbing of many English language films into French, voicing characters played on screen by Sidney Poitier, Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsley and Danny Glover (on the rare occasions when Glover was not dubbed by Richard Darbois).[1] He dubbed several of Eddie Murphy's films, including The Nutty Professor (1996) and the part of Donkey in 2001's Shrek and its sequels.[12][13]

Med Hondo explained on his website[14] that he met with Danny Glover in 1991 and presented his then-current project to him: a biopic of Haitian revolutionary Toussaint Louverture. According to Hondo, an enthusiastic Glover voiced his interest in the lead role, and in taking part in the production side of the film, but then cut all communication with Hondo and co-writer Claude Veillot. Hondo claimed that Glover's own Louverture biopic project, financially backed by Hugo Chavez, was inspired by his original screenplay, and addressed an open letter to Glover in which he denied assertions from Glover's "Louverture Films" company that the script was a commission paid by Glover to Hondo. Hondo also mentioned his meeting with Glover in an English-language interview on French international news channel France 24.[15]

Hondo died in Paris on 2 March 2019, aged 82.[16]






  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Biography, official site.
  2. ^ a b Sherzer (1996), p. 173.
  3. ^ a b c d Ukadike (2002), p. 57.
  4. ^ a b c Sherzer (1996), p. 174.
  5. ^ Murphy (2007), p. 71.
  6. ^ a b Ukadike (2002), p. 58.
  7. ^ Sherzer (1996), p. 175.
  8. ^ Reid (1986).
  9. ^ Harvard Film Archive.
  10. ^ Locarno International Film Festival official site.
  11. ^ "12th Moscow International Film Festival (1981)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  12. ^ a b c d L'Humanité (1997).
  13. ^ a b Canadian Online Explorer (2002).
  14. ^ Med Hondo's open letter to Danny Glover, Archived 23 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine (French and English).
  15. ^ "The Interview: Med Hondo, filmmaker and actor - France 24". France 24. 1 January 1970. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  16. ^ Baye Ndiaye, Babacar (2 March 2019). "Décès à Paris du cinéaste mauritanien Med Hondo". Retrieved 16 March 2019.



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