Luciani - A Prophet

César Luciani, as portrayed by Niels Arestrup

If you eat, it's because of me. If you dream, if you think, if you live, it's because of me!
~ César Luciani

César Luciani is the primary antagonist in Jacques Audiard's prison drama, A Prophet (2009).

He was portrayed by Niels Arestrup.


Luciani is a veteran corsican crime boss who is serving time (presumably a lifelong sentence) in prison, and runs his section with an iron fist. When Malik El Djebena -a muslim- is taken to jail, Luciani orders him to perform a hit involving another muslim prisoner, who is to testify in a case involving one of his guys. After a few threats and a beating, a reluctant Malik completes the job, and Luciani takes him in as a sort of pupil. He gets El Djebena some inside protection and takes advantage of his middle eastern heritage to keep an eye on the arab block in hopes of maintaining a grip on the prison hierarchy, as several of his men are being transferred elsewhere. When Malik is granted some exit permits -transacted by his boss- César uses him to negotiate with mobsters outside the jail. As their partnership progresses, they develop a certain closeness, though Luciani would not hesitate to straighten him out if he feels Malik is endangering his business. El Djebena would eventually want to break free from Luciani's grasp, and turn against his mentor.