Riz Ahmed Reveals He Learnt Drums From Scratch for 'Sound of Metal'

Published March 31st, 2021 - 08:32 GMT
Riz Ahmed spent every day drumming for hours
Riz Ahmed spent every day drumming for hours
Highlights
Riz Ahmed reveals he practiced the drums for hours on end EVERY DAY for SEVEN months to prepare for his acclaimed role in The Sound Of Metal ahead of BAFTAs 2021

Riz Ahmed spent every day drumming for hours on end for seven months straight in preparation for his role in acclaimed film The Sound Of Metal.

Speaking during BAFTA's Film Sessions webinar on Tuesday, Riz, 38, who us up for a Leading Actor gong at the 2021 ceremony next month, recounted his process in becoming Ruben Stone - the heavy metal drummer who begins to lose his hearing.

'I spent seven months, every day, drumming for a few hours,' Riz told host Mariayah Kaderbhai. 'I was so badly coordinated, and still am!

'The particular kind of drumming we were doing, double-peddling, I'm left-handed, so sometimes when you're left-handed you do some things left-handed, some things right-handed. So we kept switching round the drums. We kept going back and forth.

'So it was seven months of drumming and of American Sign Language every day. And training with my personal trainer who is hard of hearing also.

'It was a full schedule for a long time.'

Despite the intense prep, Riz told the zoom broadcast - which also featured fellow Leading Actor nominees Adarsh Gourav, Tahar Rahim, and Mads Mikkelsen - that he enjoyed immersing himself in 'non-verbal communication'.

'It was a real blessing. They are both languages - drumming and American Sign Language. They're both forms of non-verbal communication,' he went on. 'When I speak in Urdu, or English, or French, different sides of me come out - I go back to who I was when I learnt that language.

'Drums and ASL opened me up as an actor in different ways. Reuben is a character who doesn't have a lot of dialogue so communicating physically or being in the body a bit more is something I needed to do for this performance.

I didn't realise, in learning the drums or sign language, that it would do it for me. I thought I was learning skills, but learning skills spills out in unexpected ways and changes you as a person.

'It was a real blessing. They are both languages - drumming and American Sign Language. They're both forms of non-verbal communication,' he went on. 'When I speak in Urdu, or English, or French, different sides of me come out - I go back to who I was when I learnt that language.

'Drums and ASL opened me up as an actor in different ways. Reuben is a character who doesn't have a lot of dialogue so communicating physically or being in the body a bit more is something I needed to do for this performance.

I didn't realise, in learning the drums or sign language, that it would do it for me. I thought I was learning skills, but learning skills spills out in unexpected ways and changes you as a person.

'I couldn't hear my own voice. There were several days on set where we would leave them on the whole day. And it was intense,' he said. 'It gave me a glimpse to what it feels like to suddenly go through hearing loss and be cut off from the sense.'

Riz and his other nominees took part in the broadcast for BAFTA, in which they each discussed how they approached their performances  and the challenges of bringing their powerful characters to screen. 

Adarsh is nominated for his role in The White Tiger. He plays entrepreneur Balram Halwai who is convinced the underclasses of India are trapped in a perpetual state of servitude.

Fellow nominee Tahar portrays Mohamedou Ould Salahi in The Mauritanian - a legal drama co-starring Jodie Foster and Shailene Woodley, about a US captor in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

Mads stars in Another Round as depressed Teacher Martin who turns to drink alcohol during the school day.

 


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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