Shortly after graduating from Oxford, Riz Ahmed began studying at London’s prestigious Central School of Speech and Drama; while there, he landed his first film role, in Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross’ “The Road to Guantanamo” (2006). He followed it with some TV work — notably in ITV’s “Wired” — before playing the titular lead in Eran Creevy’s micro-budget “Shifty” (2009), which earned him a BIFA nomination. He earned a second BIFA nom the following year, for his perf in Chris Morris’ “Four Lions.”
Before long, he seemed almost inescapable: appearing in Sally Potter’s “Rage,” Neil Marshall’s Roman epic “Centurion,” starring in Jean-Jacques Annaud’s “Black Gold” and Mira Nair’s “The Reluctant Fundamentalist.” He re-teamed with Winterbottom for his latest feature, the India-set “Tess of the d’Urbervilles” adaptation “Trishna,” which preemed last year at Toronto.
“And anyway,” he adds, “I don’t see myself as a purely British actor — my heritage from South Asia opens the possibility of working in that region, and the Middle East, as well. Being an insider and an outsider — someone whose experience cuts across different classes and cultures — has only been an asset to me, in terms of experiences to draw on. It’s an interesting position to be in, and an interesting place to tell stories from.”