The French actor was nominated for his role in the upcoming legal drama The Mauritanian.

Newly minted Golden Globe nominee Tahar Rahim was not paying attention to the nominations announcement this morning. Instead, he was working.

"I'm in a photoshoot today, right? So they're preparing me, and I'm not looking at the press conference because it makes me too nervous," The Mauritanian star says in a phone call to EW from Paris. He says he then heard his friend running up the stairs "like a bull," and she delivered the news that he had been nominated for his first Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama. "So I jumped. I was so amazed. I didn't know if it would happen, and I was really, really happy. My heart bumped to the roof," he says, adding with a laugh, "You know what, it was raining in Paris, and when she gave me the news, the sun came to celebrate."

The legal drama, which is slated for release on Feb. 12, is directed by Kevin Macdonald and based on the New York Times best-selling memoir Guantánamo Diary by Mohamedou Ould Slahi. It tells the incredible true story of Slahi's fight for freedom after being detained and imprisoned without charge by the U.S. Government for years. Rahim plays Slahi, and is joined in the cast by Jodie Foster, Shailene Woodley, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Zachary Levi.

The Mauritanian
Credit: Graham Bartholomew/STXfilms

Because he's been busy with the shoot, he hasn't yet had time to catch up with Foster (who was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her part in the film) or Slahi, though he does plan to do so. "I want to share it with my director, Kevin, which I did. And the iconic Jodie. I grew up with her movies and her performances. It's incredible. Without them, it wouldn't have been possible," he admits.

Rahim says he also wants to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for their support. "I thank them from the bottom of my heart for supporting me and the movie, and hopefully it will shine a light on Mohamedou and his story, because it's a story that needs to be told," he says. The 39-year-old French actor, who is of Algerian descent, says he also hopes his nomination "brings hope" to young actors. "If it can help to open up the range of offers to actors from different backgrounds, it will be great. I think that is so important," he says.

Another person whom the actor has not yet talked to is friend and fellow Best Actor nominee Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), who echoed Rahim's hopes in a conversation with EW earlier on Wednesday. "I don't really think about it as going up against him, I just think it's beautiful that his work is being celebrated and in a way it might not have had time to be digested by viewers and voters in the past," Ahmed says of Rahim, with whom he worked on 2011's Day of the Falcon. "I feel like when good work is celebrated that we all win."

Speaking of celebrations, Rahim says he has a sneaking suspicion how he'll celebrate his nomination once the dust settles. He says, "I don't know it, but I suspect a surprise party. My wife [Leïla Bekhti] is so good at throwing surprise parties."

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