Riz Ahmed’s powerful performance in Sound of Metal has catapulted him into mainstream popularity. Playing a drummer who must learn to cope with deafness, Ahmed earned a nomination for Best Actor at the 93rd Academy Awards.
Ahmed’s nomination is a big deal because he’s officially become the first Muslim actor to get a Best Actor nomination. Yet, as important as the role was for Ahmed as an actor, it served an equally important role for him as a person.
He recently noted that the role helped him learn some valuable lessons that he will carry with him for the rest of his life.
Riz Ahmed learned some life lessons from his role in ‘Sound of Metal’
Ahmed detailed the learning experience he had while starring in Sound of Metal during a recent interview with The New York Times. Although there were many lessons he took away from the role, there was one, in particular, that stood out to him the most.
“Ruben is on a journey to try and learn the value of stillness and that’s something that I think I can get better at,” Ahmed said.
Ahmed later mentioned that he feels more connected to himself after starring in Sound of Metal.
“I feel more connected to me now than I’ve ever felt by going on a journey through space and time and inhabiting another body. You leave home to return home.”
Riz Ahmed felt a ‘burden of representation’ earlier in his career
Ahmed stressed the importance of stillness, which he personally admitted he’s struggled to feel as an actor. Earlier in his career, he would overwork himself in hopes of impressing those around him.
“It was something I was willing to diligently train for the validation of others,” Ahmed said, “whether that’s the ‘bravo’ of an audience or the ‘well done’ of a director or the retweets of music fans or thinking about what the people in my community need from me.”
Although things have changed now, Ahmed understands that his need for constant work was due to feeling like he had a huge responsibility to represent his culture and religion on a grand stage.
“I think that’s a byproduct of a lot of things,” he said. “Like feeling a bit of a burden of representation on your shoulders, and realizing that you might occupy space that many others don’t.”
The ‘Sound of Metal’ director says the role changed Riz Ahmed
In the same interview, Sound of Metal director Darius Marder also claimed that he noticed a change in Ahmed after the two completed the film.
“I do think it marked this kind of crossroads in his life as an artist and as a person,” Marder said. “Maybe it’s not a mistake that he’s married now. He’s taking these big moments in life, these big changes, and giving himself to something else that is also out of his control.”
Riz Ahmed has learned to let go of control in his life
Nowadays, Ahmed is a lot more relaxed about his approach to acting. He embraces the liberation he feels from letting go of control.
“If we don’t control anything, then maybe every single thing in your life is a gift,” Ahmed said. “Wow! That’s amazing, you know?”
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