In just under a decade, British entertainer Riz Ahmed has gone from satirical rap artist to big screen star, having worked with Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler) and Michael Fassbender (Centurion) since debuting in Michael Winterbottom’s The Road to Guantanamo in 2006. The actor’s 2016 slate is packed with blockbuster potential, including the Star Wars anthology film Rogue One and a supporting role in Paul Greengrass’ upcoming Jason Bourne sequel alongside Matt Damon.
Ahmed tells EW the dynamic of working with two veterans of the medium was energizing, and that both men facilitated a welcoming atmosphere on a chatoic set. “It was such a joy working on the Bourne project; Paul Greengrass, they say tone is set at the top, and I think Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon are such cool guys, from my experience with them,” he says. “Very generous, very engaging, very interested, humble, and that just trickles down onto set. So, no matter what kind of madness is happening or how much you’re running to try and make the day, it’s just a good vibe on set.”
The upoming film, the fifth in the series, sees Damon reprising the titular role after skipping the fourth installment, The Bourne Legacy, in 2012. Ahmed joins the franchise playing a CIA tech specialist, and he says witnessing Damon’s “genius” abilities made for an inspiring atmosphere all around. “That’s something I really learned from it. I think often we elevate this idea of the tortured genius, but I think [Damon and Greengrass are] geniuses at what they do, and they’re not torturing anyone, from what I can see. Maybe they go home and cry every night, but they were just spreading good vibes, so that was good to see.”
Watch more of Ahmed’s take on working with Damon and Greengrass in the video above, and check out the Jason Bourne trailer below. The film, which also stars Alicia Vikander, Julia Stiles and Tommy Lee Jones, arrives in theaters July 29.