The Best Actor nominee sits down with The Awardist for an in-depth conversation on the nuances and challenges of his Sound of Metal role.

By Clarissa Cruz
April 12, 2021 at 11:00 AM EDT
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It's been almost two years since Sound of Metal premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. In that long timespan, where so much of the world has changed, the film hits differently now.

"[My character Ruben] suddenly faces a health crisis [that] forces him into a lockdown where everything he thought defined him has been taken away," the film's star Riz Ahmed, nominated for the Best Actor Oscar, explains. "And I think in the context of 2020 and the pandemic, that is a journey a lot of people have been on: Go, go, go. And this is who I am. This is my life. This is what gives me meaning. And all of a sudden the rug has been pulled from under them. Ruben's journey is one that almost feels like a microcosm of what we've been going through as a society."

SOUND OF METAL
Credit: Amazon Studios

Fresh off his groundbreaking Oscar recognition (he's the first Muslim and Pakistani actor to ever be cited in the category), Ahmed joined the latest episode of EW's The Awardist podcast to bring us up-close to the intense preparation the role required. "It ended up being an incredible key to unlock the character for me," he says of the research process. "It opened me up in different ways as an actor and as a person. My sign instructor, Jeremy Stone, would always say that there's a saying in the deaf community, that hearing people are emotionally repressed because we hide behind words."

If you've seen the film (and get on that if you haven't!), the demanding nature of the character speaks for itself. And there wasn't much time at all to get things done (a four-week shoot, to be exact). "What I always realized shooting any film is that the challenges end up being the gifts," Ahmed explains. "The stuff that you're most resistant to and anxious about ends up being the stuff that releases you. Having not much time was an incredible blessing because it meant we had no time to overthink anything."

Watch the conversation above, or listen to it in full as part of our latest Awardist podcast episode below. Sound of Metal is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Check out more from EW's The Awardist, featuring exclusive interviews, analysis, and our podcast diving into all the highlights from the year's best films.

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