Screen Tests

Episode 84

Emma Watson

Episode 64

Jared Leto

Episode 56

Will Ferrell

Episode 55

Lea Seydoux

Episode 52

Emma Watson

Episode 49

Richard Gere

Episode 47

Joan Smalls

Episode 41

Karlie Kloss

Episode 40

Tom Cruise

Episode 39

Clive Owen

Episode 37

Jessica Biel

Episode 35

Uggie

Episode 34

James Franco

Episode 32

Viola Davis

Episode 31

Jonah Hill

Episode 24

Melissa Leo

Episode 18

Mila Kunis

Episode 16

Mark Ruffalo

Episode 14

Emma Stone

Episode 4

Riz Ahmed’s First Kiss Was on Stage, and He Didn’t Know What He Was Doing

In a new video interview, Riz Ahmed talks about everything from how he became an actor and what it's like to be a minority in Hollywood, to the movies that always make him cry and his traumatizing first memory.

Released on 6/30/2017

Credit

Transcript

00:03
First time I left London was at the age of two
00:05
to go to Pakistan to be circumcised.
00:08
Yeah, it's a whole song and dance about it.
00:11
That's my first memory, still traumatized.
00:13
I was always kinda like the class clown.
00:15
I was always messing around in class,
00:18
getting sent out, making jokes and stuff.
00:21
That's how I got into the school plays
00:23
'cause I used to get into so much trouble in class
00:26
that one of the teachers said,
00:27
"If you wanna muck about, then do it on stage,
00:30
"and you'll get a round of applause for it.
00:32
"You do it in my classroom, and you'll get a detention."
00:35
So, that's how it kinda started.
00:36
My first acting job was The Road to Guantanamo.
00:39
It was funny because as I was leaving drama school,
00:41
I thought, "The world is a scary place right now,
00:44
"and I've always been interested in the world
00:47
"and in social issues," and I thought,
00:49
"How am I gonna engage with that as an actor?"
00:52
And this job, it just fell out of the sky into my lap.
00:56
"Wow, there is a part.
00:58
"There is a way in which I can be a creative person
01:00
"and make art but still engage with the world around me."
01:03
It was a way forwards that I could see for myself.
01:07
It's interesting because I do think
01:08
sometimes it works in stages
01:09
where sometimes you start off
01:11
with stereotypical portrayals of minorities.
01:13
So, we're always a terrorist or a shopkeeper.
01:16
If you're a gay person, you're a flaming queen
01:18
or a black person will be a drug dealer,
01:20
and then you move on from that
01:22
to subject matter that is about some of those issues
01:27
but flips them on their head.
01:28
My hope is now we've moved on to almost like a stage three
01:31
where I can play a character
01:32
where it's not directly tied to race
01:34
or any of those kind of ethnicity issues at all.
01:39
I don't get stopped in the US because I've got a visa,
01:41
but I get stopped in the UK before I board the plane.
01:45
What's funny is that the neighborhood
01:47
that Heathrow Airport is in
01:49
is a heavily South Asian neighborhood,
01:51
and so the kids working there are often fans of mine.
01:55
So, the kids that pull me aside to search me
01:58
are also asking me for selfies,
02:00
while they're swabbing me for explosives and stuff
02:03
or going through my underpants
02:04
and quoting my raps back at me,
02:07
so quite a surreal experience,
02:10
but I guess that speaks to the dichotomy
02:12
and the insider/outsider status
02:14
that I know I've felt all my life.
02:16
What movie doesn't make me cry, man?
02:19
I'm an actor.
02:20
You know, I'm this far away from crying most of the time.
02:24
This interview's been emotional.
02:26
E.T.
02:27
E.T. made me cry a lot.
02:29
I relate to the alien.
02:31
If you're a child of immigrants,
02:32
you relate to the alien on E.T.
02:34
"They're coming to take me.
02:35
"They say I can't stay here.
02:38
"They're gonna burst into our homes and take us away."
02:40
I was E.T. in that film.
02:42
You know, my first kiss was onstage.
02:45
I think I was like 12 or something like that,
02:48
and it was in the school play.
02:49
We did South Pacific.
02:51
I was one of the kids or something, and I was like,
02:54
"I don't know if I'm doing this right."
02:56
Lied about it obviously.
02:57
I was like, "Just follow me,
03:00
"if you're not sure what you're doing."
03:02
I think she knew that I didn't know what I was doing.
03:05
We did not have a relationship.
03:07
My secret skill
03:10
is...
03:12
I don't know if I'm humble enough
03:13
to keep any skill of mine secret.
03:15
If I'm even vaguely skilled at anything,
03:17
I will do it in the most public setting possible.
03:21
I have no secret skills.
03:22
If I was half good at anything, I'd be shouting about it.
03:25
It's tragic but true.