He is a keen amateur boxer and co-author of two political thriller novels. And right now, new French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is playing a leading role in a real-life political thriller of his own.
Plucked from relative obscurity by President Emmanuel Macron, the bearded Mr Philippe is part of a political calculation to secure a working majority for Mr Macron in Parliament. And his tenure as prime minister is far from secure.
Mr Philippe, 46, is mayor of the Normandy seaside town of Le Havre. He belongs to the country's traditional conservative establishment and is a prominent member of France's centre-right Les Republicains, a group Mr Macron, 39, must work with if he is to succeed in carrying out sweeping economic reforms.
Next month, Mr Macron faces parliamentary elections, and victory is by no means guaranteed, potentially leaving him with a prime minster who would stymie his rule.
Mr Macron's new Cabinet, in true centrist style, is composed of the centre-left and centre-right, and his choice of Mr Philippe says a lot not only about how he intends to govern, but also how he hopes to secure that working majority in Parliament.
Mr Macron's freshly minted party, La Republique en Marche (Forward, the Republic), founded from his campaign group after his win in the May 7 presidential vote, will field candidates in all but one of France's 577 constituencies. But the new party will struggle to win the 289 seats required for a majority.
For now though, Mr Philippe is prime minister. Whether he remains in office after the parliamentary elections depends on whether he can tempt enough Republican voters to support Mr Macron's party instead of voting for his own erstwhile comrades.
In choosing Mr Philippe, Mr Macron hopes to obviate this problem and ensure that his presidency is not stymied by "cohabitation", which would see the opposition centre-right Republican party appoint a prime minister.
Upon accepting the post, Mr Philippe, who favours liberal economic reforms, described himself as "a man of the right" - as a young man, Mr Philippe had supported the Socialist party.
Mr Philippe's role on the right is key to his appeal to the President: Attracting Socialist party voters has been easy for Mr Macron following that party's decimation during the presidential election. Republican voters might prove more tricky as the party hopes to revive itself, having lost the presidential election despite being early front runners.
A europhile and German speaker, Mr Philippe, like Mr Macron, is a graduate of the elite Ecole Nationale d'Administration, something of a finishing school for senior civil servants.
Also like Mr Macron, he has worked in the private sector; in Mr Philippe's case for American law firm Debevoise & Plimpton.
He is married with three children, and his wife, Edith, teaches at the Sciences Po university.
Also faintly echoing Mr Macron, who became president without previously holding elected office, Mr Philippe has no ministerial experience and was hitherto considered a relatively unknown, or even lightweight, figure.
In a sign of ideological flexibility, during the presidential campaign, Mr Philippe wrote a column for the once radical but now centre-left newspaper Liberation, in which he slammed Mr Macron as a populist and France's "juvenile conqueror", a figure of faith "without a real programme, a real team". However, he swung behind Mr Macron in the final face-off against the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.
Mr Philippe is a close associate of former prime minister Alain Juppe, who last year was tipped as a likely next president of France but was defeated by the scandal-hit hard-right candidate Francois Fillon in the Republican party primary. Mr Juppe, a moderate who was once convicted for abuse of public funds, nonetheless has a strong following in France, which Mr Philippe and Mr Macron hope to win over.
One of Mr Juppe's greatest achievements was to merge France's splintered right to form the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) in 2002. In May 2015, the UMP was renamed the Republican party. Mr Juppe attempted to dissuade Mr Philippe from accepting the appointment but nonetheless wished his protege well, saying he possessed "all the qualities" to be prime minister.
Senator Joelle Garriaud-Maylam, a Republican party member, says Mr Philippe's rise is not guaranteed.
Referring to Mr Macron, she said: "What is shocking to me is how it is happening. He is taking people from every party; those who have obviously made a calculation. Every person who wants to be a minister has obviously rushed to him."
Ms Garriaud-Maylam hopes her party will triumph in next month's parliamentary elections and its candidate for prime minister, whoever he or she might be, would be happy to work with Mr Macron.
"I hope for a cohabitation situation," she said.
For now though, Mr Philippe, is prime minister. Whether he remains in office after the parliamentary elections depends on whether he can tempt enough Republican voters to support Mr Macron's party instead of voting for his own erstwhile comrades.