Having become the first Muslim to land the Lead Actor nod, the ‘Sound of Metal’ star recalls the time he was so broke he couldn’t afford a plane ticket to an audition for ‘Nightcrawler’ in Los Angeles.
Oscar nominee Riz Ahmed was so broke before shooting his breakthrough role in 2014 film “Nightcrawler“, he almost quit the project. The “Sound of Metal” star couldn’t afford a plane ticket to an audition in Los Angeles and started seriously reconsidering his acting dreams.
“They [casting directors] asked me to fly to L.A. and I was like, ‘I can’t fly to L.A. I’m broke,’ ” he tells The Mirror. “But I had to fly to L.A. and just bet on myself. I spent that whole flight just running lines. I remember landing and seeing Jake Gyllenhaal in the room and going, ‘Whoa!’ ”
“It came when I thought I’d reached the end of the road. I wasn’t really making any money, being offered that next tier of roles,” he adds. “I just felt like earning a couple of grand for a movie? I can’t live like this. I’m not going to be able to move forward or start a family.”
His gamble paid off – last week, Riz became the first Muslim nominated for a Lead Actor Oscar for his role in the “Sound of Metal” as Ruben Stone, a drummer losing his hearing.
After making Oscars history on Monday, March 15, Ahmed wrote in an Instagram post, “Wow! I’m honored to be nominated by my fellow actors alongside such inspiring performances, and am grateful to the Academy for their support and encouragement.”
Speaking about the role itself, Ahmed admits to The Mirror, “I spent that period playing the drums every day and learning American sign Language every day. It was immersive. It was challenging. It was daunting. But it was a tremendous privilege, you know? I feel like it opened me up in new ways.”