Riz Ahmed Says He Lost 22 Pounds in 3 Weeks for His Role in 'Mogul Mowgli'

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Photo credit: Facebook / Pulse Films
Photo credit: Facebook / Pulse Films

Riz Ahmed says losing 22 pound in the space of three weeks in preparation for his role in Mogul Mowgli took him to "an intense place"—and honestly, who can blame him.

Opening up about the reality of such an extreme physical transformation, the 38-year-old actor says he struggled with the "gruelling" weight loss program for the film, in which he plays a British-Pakistani rapper diagnosed with a degenerative autoimmune disease.

"I lost about 22 pounds in three weeks. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone," Ahmed told IndieWire. "I had a professional dietician working with me, but it was really gruelling and took me emotionally to an intense place, which probably informed the movie. That was a big part of it, being in a place of weakness and fatigue and insatiable hunger."

Referencing the words of Oscar-winning actor Daniel Kaluuya during the press tour for the 2021 American biographical drama film Judas and the Black Messiah, Ahmed went on to add that he needed to "be in his body" to portray the character.

"Dan Kaluuya said something I liked: "If you're in your head, you're dead"," he said. "I think that's true. Acting has to be in your body. Anything that brings you into your body centres you, and you can perform in that place."

Ahmed co-wrote the Mogul Mowgli screenplay with director Bassam Tariq, and it was shot in London back in 2019 – just a few months after his Oscar-nominated appearance in Sound of Metal. The film was released in the UK in October 2020, but only hit the big screen in the US last week.

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