Riz Ahmed becomes first Muslim nominated for Best Actor Oscar

"As long as it feels like an opportunity for more people than ever before to really connect and feel included in this moment, that’s a blessing"

Riz Ahmed has become the first Muslim to be nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role at the Oscars.

He was nominated for his role as Ruben, a heavy metal drummer who grapples with his immediate and intermittent hearing loss in the movie Sound Of Metal.

His girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke) takes him to a rural community led by Joe (Paul Raci), a deaf Vietnam War vet who teaches Ruben a new way of life.

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The film, which is out in on  Amazon Prime Video in the UK on April 12, is deliberately subtitled in order for both hearing and non-hearing audiences to be able to understand. Ahmed took six months of drum lessons before filming, and also learned American Sign Language.

 

“If there’s a way in which people can find themselves in this moment, and can feel inspired and connected on a deeper level, I’m all for it,” Ahmed told The Hollywood Reporter.

“Whether they see me as the first British Pakistani, or the first guy from Wembley, you know, there’s so many ways to view it. But as long as it feels like an opportunity for more people than ever before to really connect and feel included in this moment, that’s a blessing.”

He continued: “It’s why we do it, to stretch our hearts and stretch our minds, and in the process stretch culture.”

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“We should stretch culture so that it’s big enough and wide enough and expansive enough so that there’s space for all of us to find ourselves in it, to feel that we belong and that we’re included, and that we matter. These changes aren’t just something that’s good politically or socially. It’s something which allows stories and storytelling to get back to its original intention, which is to embrace all of us.”

The full script for Sound Of Metal was recently posted online.

His nomination comes after Mahershala Ali made history with two Best Supporting Actor wins in 2017 and 2019 for Moonlight and Green Book.

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