Riz Ahmed jokes that he lied about not being a diva to get the role in director Michael Pearce’s new film “Encounter.”

“I lied to him and said, ‘Listen I’m not troublesome to work with. I promise I will be super chill, in your corner,” Ahmed said. “That would change when he gave me the job – I was out to get him every day!”

In the film, Ahmed plays Malik, a former Marine who takes his two young sons on the run from a mysterious alien threat. Ahmed was joined at Variety‘s TIFF Studio presented by Canada Goose by Pearce and his co-stars Octavia Spencer, Lucian-River Chauhan and Aditya Geddada.

Ahmed said he was a fan of Pearce’s previous film “Beast,” and actively pursued the role in “Encounter.” Spencer was also intrigued by the creatives involved, but adds, that, “It had to be on the page. And it was a page-turner. I was like, ‘This is amazing! Oh my God!’ And as things continue to be revealed in these very organic, transcendent moments for me – I just knew that I wanted to be a part of it.”

Chauchan and Geddada were both thrilled to be cast as Ahmed’s sons – though Geddada admitted he didn’t initially know who Ahmed was. “When I heard that Riz was playing my father, I was like, ‘Who the heck is he?’” he revealed. “Then my dad showed me a couple of scenes of ‘Nightcrawler’ and I was like, ‘Wow, this guy is amazing.’”

Chauchan, however, said he had heard of Ahmed – and say “Venom” recently. He found out he got the role on his 11th birthday. “It was definitely an amazing birthday present.”

Ahmed had nothing but praise for his young co-stars. You might think you have to edit around a lot of stuff get to get an amazing performance out these guys – that’s just not the case. Every day on set they were amazing. For me, it was like a big reset creatively to be around such honesty and such emotional authenticity.”

Watch the full interview above.