Riz Ahmed has never been afraid to speak his mind. It’s a good thing too, because over the past decade the British actor, rapper and activist has established himself as one of the most intelligent, insightful and influential voices in the game. That’s why we’re proud to welcome him to this year's Esquire Townhouse @ Your House in partnership with Breitling line-up for a candid discussion around identity, politics, mental health and staying true to your instincts.
Speaking to Esquire editor-at-large Sanjiv Bhattacharya, at the The James of Hollywood in Los Angeles, the 37-year-old talks thoughtfully about the structural problems in western society that have been brought into sharp focus by the pandemic, as well as our collective responsibility to address them, his own Pakistani heritage, and about his own complicated relationship with modern Britain. The latter is a subject he also explored with his critically acclaimed album, The Long Goodbye, and he goes into thought-provoking detail about the creative process behind it.
Riz Ahmed is on the brink of releasing two of the most important films of his career. Sound of Metal, the story of a workaholic heavy metal drummer who struggles to come to terms with the sudden loss of his hearing, is a stunningly experiential piece of work; the actor learned American Sign Language for the role, and his character’s eventual immersion into a dedicated deaf community serves as a timely reminder that we must continue to provide time, funding and resources to those in need, even in times of hardship.
Then there’s Mogul Mowgli – a movie, Riz tells us, that sprung from his desire to “To give yourself and the complexity of your own experience to culture.” The Bassam Tariq-directed film follows Zed (Riz), a British-Pakistani rapper who is struck down by an autoimmune disease in the build-up to his world tour. In his Townhouse discussion, Ahmed speaks about the limited opportunities that are provided for Pakistani actors within the film industry, and his own determination to change that.
The film will be live to watch on this page from 7pm on Thursday 15 October, and then available to view again whenever you like.
Special thanks to The James of Hollywood, 1830 N Cherokee Ave, Los Angeles, thejameshollywood.com
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