Is Arséne Lupin on Netflix's 'Lupin' Real?

Is Arséne Lupin on Netflix's 'Lupin' Real?

January 19, 2021

If you like the feel of a good heist flick, then Netflix‘s new series Lupin will likely be appealing. The series takes many elements of the genre but adds in the depth and nuance that a television series — with its long run time — can accomplish more completely than a film. Once viewers have met protagonist Assane Diop and see how inspired he is by Arséne Lupin, they may find themselves wanting to learn more about this “gentleman burglar.”  Most notably, many fans are wondering if Arséne Lupin is a real person. 

‘Lupin’ is a popular Netflix series 

Lupin‘s rise to Netflix’s top 10 has made it a surprise breakthrough hit. The series features a scrappy protagonist named Assane Diop who has brought many of the people in his life into a plan to pull off an impressive jewelry heist that involves stealing a necklace that once belonged to Marie Antoinette.

As the series unfolds, though, viewers learn that there is more going on beneath the surface. Assane isn’t just trying to get rich — he’s avenging his father’s wrongful death when false accusations against him got him killed. 

Some have drawn comparisons between Lupin and the ABC series Revenge. In both series, the protagonist takes on a different persona in order to pull off their plan to avenge a parent facing wrongful accusations. Another link between the series is that both draw from French literature in order to build up their exciting, action-filled worlds. 

Assane Diop builds an identity around Arséne Lupin

As Assane puts his plan into action, he adopts the persona of Arséne Lupin, a character from a book that his father once gave to him. Assane is played by Omar Sy, a French actor who made a name for himself as a comedian. In this role, Sy is definitely showing off his range, as the series definitely veers into the suspenseful and dramatic.

While Sy has been working in America since the early 2000s, he hasn’t really made a huge name for himself stateside yet. It looks like Lupin is about to change that, and the complex character is definitely sending Sy’s star power on the rise. 

Part of the reason that viewers are so impressed with Sy is because taking on Arséne Lupin’s character requires an impressive range of acting abilities. Arséne Lupin is a streetwise anti-hero popular in French literature. His ability to slip in and out of worlds with ease has made him a fun and intriguing character that has drawn comparisons to Sherlock Holmes. 

Was Arséne Lupin a real person?

The references to Arséne Lupin in French literature are rich and long-running, so some viewers wonder if they’re based in reality. Alas, Arséne Lupin is not a real person, but he has had a real impact on the culture.

The character was originally created by French writer Maurice Leblanc. Arséne Lupin’s first appearance was in the 1905 story “The Arrest of Arséne Lupin.” A master of disguise and a thief, the character had enough appeal to appear in multiple works. In fact, readers can see him develop over an impressive 17 novels and 39 novellas, as Decider reports. 

It might be fun to imagine Arséne Lupin as a real character able to slip on multiple identities — perhaps someone akin to Frank Abagnale Jr. who Leonardo DiCaprio portrayed in Catch Me if You Can. This particular slick-talking master of disguise, however, has no real-life counterpart. Still, the persona allows Lupin to explore real-life themes of race, class, and family bonds.

While the series shows a fictional character taking on another fictional persona, viewers are caught up in the drama that maps onto reality in unexpected ways. 

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