“The Night Of” star explained during an interview with Moss for Variety‘s “Actors on Actors” that he originally auditioned for Jamal Malik, the lead role that eventually went to Dev Patel. Boyle, however, asked him to read for Salim Malik, Jamal’s older brother who is a bit rougher. He was practicing a particularly angry scene with Boyle when things got slightly out of hand.
“Danny says, ‘You know what Riz, you can do whatever you want, you can get up in my face,'” Ahmed said. “I was like ‘okay, okay, I’m all g’d up.’ He goes, ‘action!,’ and before you know it, I’ve got Danny Boyle up against the wall, I’m, like, screaming in his face, spitting in his face, and I’ve ripped his shirt — I’ve ripped the seams of his shirt open.”
He said the director thanked him politely for coming in, and Ahmed walked out feeling like he had nailed the audition.
Ahmed also revealed that he auditioned for his role as Nasir “Naz” Khan on HBO’s “The Night Of” essentially blind, without any knowledge of the series.
“I was just boarding a plane, my agent said, ‘I’m sending you a script, you have an audition when you land,'” Ahmed said. “I knew nothing about it, I didn’t know that I should be nervous, I didn’t know that it was a big deal.”
The interview will air in its entirety on Variety‘s “Actors on Actors” Season 6, presented by Shutterstock, which premieres June 13 on PBS SoCal.