Everything You Need To Know About The True Story That Inspired ‘The Upside’

Philippe Pozzo di Borgo isn’t exactly a household name, and not many people would want to see a movie about a champagne executive. That didn’t stop the 2011 French film Les Intouchables from turning di Borgo’s story into a feel-good hit and inspiring an American remake starring Bryan Cranston, Kevin Hart, and Nicole Kidman. What would inspire such a critically acclaimed and commercially successful cast to tell his tale?

A French aristocrat, di Borgo came from wealth and status on both sides of his family and seemed to have it all. However, after an unfortunate accident, he became a quadriplegic. His recovery was not easy and he fell into a depression. He hired Abdel Sellou, a man with a past as a con man, to be his caregiver. The two struck up an unlikely connection that blossomed into a friendship that allowed both men to transcend their troubled histories.

The two formed a real-world bond worthy of memoirs and movies. While time will tell where the 2019 film The Upside will land among the best movie remakes ever, the true story behind how diBorgo and Sellou crossed paths has the hallmarks of an all-time great friendship.

Philippe Pozzo di Borgo's Life Changed After A Paragliding Accident

Photo : Trago / WireImage / Getty Images

Philippe Pozzo di Borgo’s Life Changed After A Paragliding Accident

In 1993, Philippe Pozzo di Borgo had an accident while paragliding in the Savoyard reliefs of Mount Bisanne in the French Alps. Di Borgo had been paragliding for years and considered himself an expert. The sport requires a glider to launch off of a cliff or other high point and glide to the ground using a large parachute. However, he was distracted thinking about a difficult business decision that involved laying off a number of workers at a Swiss subsidiary of Pommery, and he wasn’t in very good spirits.

As a result of his divided attention, di Borgo crashed, breaking his spine and becoming a quadriplegic in the process. He was 42 years old at the time of the accident. His wife Béatrice made sure he was taken care of, but she passed away in 1996.

The combination of the accident and his wife’s passing sent di Borgo spiraling into a deep depression. He spent his days holed up in his expensive townhouse and needed another person to help him with his every need.

Abdel Sellou Went From A Convicted Con Man To Caregiver

Photo : Flikkersteph -5,000,000 views ,thank you! / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

Abdel Sellou Went From A Convicted Con Man To Caregiver

Abdel Sellou led a very different life than di Borgo. He was born in Algeria – one of nine children – and he was admittedly “the devil” to his family. At the age of four, he was sent to live with relatives in Paris. By 10, he was stealing and attempting to extort his classmates. Police run-ins soon followed, and Sellou dropped out of school. Instead of studying, he opted to steal from tourists and pick-pocket until he landed in jail as a teenager.

Upon his release, Sellou became eligible for government support if he could keep a job. His counselor encouraged him to apply for a position as an aide to a man in a wheelchair. When he interviewed to become di Borgo’s caregiver, Sellou held little back. Prison had hardened the man’s attitude, and he saw no need to censor his snark. That unfiltered attitude turned out to be exactly what di Borgo needed, and he offered Sellou the job and a private apartment in his home.

As di Borgo told The Telegraph , “I knew he wouldn’t flinch and could take the initiative. This is the guy I need. I don’t give a damn that he is out of jail. I needed him.”

The Pair Found Kindred Spirits In One Another

Photo : DPA / Stringer / Getty Images

The Pair Found Kindred Spirits In One Another

Di Borgo was in a rut when he met Sellou. He had lost the use of his arms and legs, and his wife was in the midst of a battle with cancer that would take her life a few years later. Sellou, on the other hand, had little to nothing to lose. He did not mince words or hold his tongue, a fact that di Borgo appreciated.

As di Borgo told The Telegraph , “He didn’t feel sorry for me – he was irreverent, cheeky and had an outrageous sense of humor. I suddenly found I was enjoying life again, feeling like I didn’t know what was coming next.”

Read Post  How to become a paraglider tandem pilot ➞ Everything you need to know!

Anytime di Borgo would get depressed, Sellou could cheer up his friend. The aristocrat affectionately referred to Sellou as his “guardian devil,” and he even got his wheelchair souped up with a more powerful engine so the pair could race it together. One familiar prank the two often pulled involved Sellou speeding around Paris in di Borgo’s luxury car until they were pulled over by police. Then, di Borgo would fake a seizure and the police would escort the two to the nearest hospital. This gag is one example of the way the two unlikely friends solidified their bond over the years.

Philippe Pozzo di Borgo Comes From A Noble French Family

Photo : Fairfax Media Archives / Getty Images

Philippe Pozzo di Borgo Comes From A Noble French Family

The name “Philippe Pozzo di Borgo” doesn’t just seem fancy – the Pozzo di Borgo family is a part of French nobility dating back to the 16th century. His name comes from his ancestor Count Carlo Andrea Pozzo di Borgo, who was a Corsican elite and a political opponent of Napolean.

Di Borgo was born on Valentine’s Day in 1951 in Tunis, Tunisia. He led a globe-trotting lifestyle growing up, living in Corsica, Trinidad, London, and other high-class destinations. Along with his two sisters and two brothers, he lived in castles and manors throughout his life and received the best French education possible.

Everything You Need To Know About The True Story That Inspired ‘The Upside’

Philippe Pozzo di Borgo isn’t exactly a household name, and not many people would want to see a movie about a champagne executive. That didn’t stop the 2011 French film Les Intouchables from turning di Borgo’s story into a feel-good hit and inspiring an American remake starring Bryan Cranston, Kevin Hart, and Nicole Kidman. What would inspire such a critically acclaimed and commercially successful cast to tell his tale?

A French aristocrat, di Borgo came from wealth and status on both sides of his family and seemed to have it all. However, after an unfortunate accident, he became a quadriplegic. His recovery was not easy and he fell into a depression. He hired Abdel Sellou, a man with a past as a con man, to be his caregiver. The two struck up an unlikely connection that blossomed into a friendship that allowed both men to transcend their troubled histories.

The two formed a real-world bond worthy of memoirs and movies. While time will tell where the 2019 film The Upside will land among the best movie remakes ever, the true story behind how diBorgo and Sellou crossed paths has the hallmarks of an all-time great friendship.

Philippe Pozzo di Borgo's Life Changed After A Paragliding Accident

Photo : Trago / WireImage / Getty Images

Philippe Pozzo di Borgo’s Life Changed After A Paragliding Accident

In 1993, Philippe Pozzo di Borgo had an accident while paragliding in the Savoyard reliefs of Mount Bisanne in the French Alps. Di Borgo had been paragliding for years and considered himself an expert. The sport requires a glider to launch off of a cliff or other high point and glide to the ground using a large parachute. However, he was distracted thinking about a difficult business decision that involved laying off a number of workers at a Swiss subsidiary of Pommery, and he wasn’t in very good spirits.

As a result of his divided attention, di Borgo crashed, breaking his spine and becoming a quadriplegic in the process. He was 42 years old at the time of the accident. His wife Béatrice made sure he was taken care of, but she passed away in 1996.

The combination of the accident and his wife’s passing sent di Borgo spiraling into a deep depression. He spent his days holed up in his expensive townhouse and needed another person to help him with his every need.

Abdel Sellou Went From A Convicted Con Man To Caregiver

Photo : Flikkersteph -5,000,000 views ,thank you! / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

Abdel Sellou Went From A Convicted Con Man To Caregiver

Abdel Sellou led a very different life than di Borgo. He was born in Algeria – one of nine children – and he was admittedly “the devil” to his family. At the age of four, he was sent to live with relatives in Paris. By 10, he was stealing and attempting to extort his classmates. Police run-ins soon followed, and Sellou dropped out of school. Instead of studying, he opted to steal from tourists and pick-pocket until he landed in jail as a teenager.

Upon his release, Sellou became eligible for government support if he could keep a job. His counselor encouraged him to apply for a position as an aide to a man in a wheelchair. When he interviewed to become di Borgo’s caregiver, Sellou held little back. Prison had hardened the man’s attitude, and he saw no need to censor his snark. That unfiltered attitude turned out to be exactly what di Borgo needed, and he offered Sellou the job and a private apartment in his home.

As di Borgo told The Telegraph , “I knew he wouldn’t flinch and could take the initiative. This is the guy I need. I don’t give a damn that he is out of jail. I needed him.”

The Pair Found Kindred Spirits In One Another

Photo : DPA / Stringer / Getty Images

The Pair Found Kindred Spirits In One Another

Di Borgo was in a rut when he met Sellou. He had lost the use of his arms and legs, and his wife was in the midst of a battle with cancer that would take her life a few years later. Sellou, on the other hand, had little to nothing to lose. He did not mince words or hold his tongue, a fact that di Borgo appreciated.

Read Post  YouTuber Grant Thompson, aka The King of Random, Killed in Paragliding Accident

As di Borgo told The Telegraph , “He didn’t feel sorry for me – he was irreverent, cheeky and had an outrageous sense of humor. I suddenly found I was enjoying life again, feeling like I didn’t know what was coming next.”

Anytime di Borgo would get depressed, Sellou could cheer up his friend. The aristocrat affectionately referred to Sellou as his “guardian devil,” and he even got his wheelchair souped up with a more powerful engine so the pair could race it together. One familiar prank the two often pulled involved Sellou speeding around Paris in di Borgo’s luxury car until they were pulled over by police. Then, di Borgo would fake a seizure and the police would escort the two to the nearest hospital. This gag is one example of the way the two unlikely friends solidified their bond over the years.

Philippe Pozzo di Borgo Comes From A Noble French Family

Photo : Fairfax Media Archives / Getty Images

Philippe Pozzo di Borgo Comes From A Noble French Family

The name “Philippe Pozzo di Borgo” doesn’t just seem fancy – the Pozzo di Borgo family is a part of French nobility dating back to the 16th century. His name comes from his ancestor Count Carlo Andrea Pozzo di Borgo, who was a Corsican elite and a political opponent of Napolean.

Di Borgo was born on Valentine’s Day in 1951 in Tunis, Tunisia. He led a globe-trotting lifestyle growing up, living in Corsica, Trinidad, London, and other high-class destinations. Along with his two sisters and two brothers, he lived in castles and manors throughout his life and received the best French education possible.

The Upside true story – a quadriplegic, ex-con and their life changing friendship

A true story about a quadriplegic champagne executive might not immediately grab you, but his unusual – and touching – friendship with his ex-con carer will.

Philippe Pozzo di Borgo’s surprisingly feel-good story was already been made into a movie back in 2011, but now it’s being given a Hollywood spin as Kevin Hart, Bryan Cranston and Nicole Kidman star in The Upside.

Philippe admits he was “born with a silver spoon” in his mouth, he is the second son of French duke after all.

He grew up in castles and manors as the son of Pozzo di Borgo and the Marquis de Vogüé.

He was enrolled in the best schools in France, worked as a manager at Moet and Chandon, before taking on the role as director for Pommery.

But in 1993, it all came crashing down.

His paragliding accident

At the age of 42, Philippe broke his spine in a paragliding accident.

He’d been paragliding in the Savoyard reliefs of Mount Bisanne, in the Swiss Alps. Philippe had been paragliding for years, he was something of an expert, but that day, as he explained later, he hadn’t been paying enough attention. Distracted by thoughts of the workers he had laid off when forced to close a subsidiary in Switzerland, his attention slipped and he crashed.

He broke his spine, and his injuries left him a quadriplegic, meaning his arm and legs were paralyzed.

After the accident, Philippe’s wife, Beatrice, ensured he was taken care of, but then three years later she died after a long battle with cancer.

The millionaire sank into depression.

That’s when he hired Abdel Sellou, an ex-con man, as his carer despite him stealing a Faberge egg during his job interview.

The two became unlikely close friends, developing a strong bond that has goes well beyond Abdel’s employment.

“He basically helped me find the desire to live again,” Philippe writes in the preface to The Upside: A Memoir.

Now The Upside film brings the story of how they came together back to the big screen.

Abdel Sellou, convicted con-man to carer

Abdel came from a very different background to Philippe. Born in Algeria, one of nine children, he confessed he was “the devil” to his family.

Aged four, he was packed off to live in Paris with their relatives. Six years later, he was stealing and attempting to extort his classmates.

Not long afterward, his run-ins with the police began and Abdel dropped out of school.

Rather than pouring over textbooks, he came up with ways to steal from the tourists that roamed Paris’ streets until it all caught up with him and he landed in jail.

When he was released, Abdel realised he was eligible for government support – but only if he was employed.

His counselor urged him to apply for a role as carer leading him to interview with Philippe.

During their chat, Abdel gave little away, prison had made him closed off and unwilling to share details about his past.

But it had also made his direct, and he didn’t hold back, not even with Philippe.

He’d interviewed 90 people but he knew as soon as he saw Abdel that he was the one.

Philippe was 42 at the time, while Abdel was 21.

Read Post  FLY TANDEM TODAY!

“We were two desperadoes looking for a way out: the wealthy quadriplegic and a young guy straight from jail who wanted to wreck everything,” Philippe told the Independent. “Two guys on the margins of society who came to depend on one another.”

Abdel’s handicap jokes were much worse than anything that could make it past a Hollywood script editor.

The honest, unfiltered approach was exactly what Philippe wanted, or needed, and he offered Abdel the job and a private apartment in his home.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Philippe said: “I knew he wouldn’t flinch and could take the initiative. This is the guy I need. I don’t give a damn that he is out of jail. I needed him.”

An unlikely friendship

When Abdel met Philippe he was in a rut, he was still getting used to his new life. Unable to use his arms and legs and with his wife battling cancer, life was hard. Abdel had nothing to lose, straight from prison, he didn’t hold back with the millionaire.

Philippe described him as “intolerable, vain and arrogant,” but he saw something else in him.

“He didn’t feel sorry for me – he was irreverent, cheeky and had an outrageous sense of humor,” Philippe said. “I suddenly found I was enjoying life again, feeling like I didn’t know what was coming next.”

Abdel became known as Philippe’s “guardian devil”. He got his wheelchair kitted out with a more powerful engine so they could race it and they pulled pranks.

One such prank saw them speed around the city in his posh car until they got pulled over by police, then Philippe would fake a seizure forcing the cops to take them to the nearest hospital.

Another time, Abdel tricked him into smoking a joint when Philippe was 48, telling it would “help him”. It took away the pain, but sent him to sleep for two hours leaving him groggy when he woke up.

It wasn’t an easy journey though. Philippe did try and kill himself once, wrapping his oxygen tube around his neck. He says the days of contemplating such a thing are long behind him now saying he thought of it because he didn’t want to be a “burden”.

Falling in love and Morocco

The previous film, The Untouchables, and the Memoirs get across that Abdel was also a womaniser, but he settled down and now has three children. He met his wife when he and Philippe visited Morocco.

He lives in his native Algeria, where he runs a poultry farm.

Speaking to Le Figaro, Philippe said: “Abdel and I finished our collaboration when we both found our soul mates. We finished our time together without sadness or difficulty.”

And where is Philippe now? He moved to Morocco where he married Khadija in 2004. They have three daughters, two biologically Khadija’s and one that’s adopted.

Abdel still visits Philippe at least once a year, continuing their close friendship.

Philippe wrote his memoirs A Second Wind, where he writes about paragliding and the things he likes to do; like listening to classical music and smoking cigarettes.

The book follows Philippe’s life until 1998.

Abdel wrote his own version called You Changed My Life in 2012.

The pair’s bond also prompted the founding of Simon of Cyrene organisation in 2003, which helps disabled people. It’s named after the man who helped carry Jesus’ cross. The charity sets up shared homes where people with disabilities can live alongside able-bodied roommates.

The Untouchables v The Upside

The new film gives Hollywood’s take on Abdel and Philippe’s story, but it’s not the first film to do so. The 2011 Les Intouchables became a hit internationally and is one of France’s highest-grossing films of all time.

The film made some changes to their story, Abdel changed from an Algerian immigrant to a Senegalese immigrant so they could cast Omar Sy.

The script also added invented moments between the two, from Sy’s character pouring boiling water on Philippe’s character to show he can’t feel anything, to shaving his moustache into a Hitler-style one before a date.

The pair were interviewed for the script by the filmmakers, and Philippe was surprised to suddenly hear Abdel’s backstory. He was “ready to tell his story”.

Philippe said at the time he “learned more about him during the three days spent together in my home [ Essaouira, Morocco ] than I had in our fifteen-year friendship.”

The French film’s success sparked retellings of their story the world over, with the 2016 Argentinian version called Inseperables, and the Indian remake Oopiri, released in the same year.

Now The Upside, with Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston, gives the American take on the story, though it remains to be seen what changes they make.

What remains the same is that deep connection the friends have.

“According to [Abdel’s memoirs] I have changed his life,” wrote Philippe. “That may be true, but in any case, what I am certain of is that he changed mine.”

Source https://www.ranker.com/list/true-story-behind-the-upside/jesse-childs

Source https://www.ranker.com/list/true-story-behind-the-upside/jesse-childs

Source https://www.mirror.co.uk/film/upside-true-story-quadriplegic-ex-13829192

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *