Five Iconic Riz Ahmed Performances You Can Watch Today

Throughout his acting career, Ahmed has constantly received critical and audience acclaim for his emotional vulnerability and his ability to explore identity through his characters. Here are just a few of Riz Ahmed’s most iconic performances in projects that are currently available to stream.

British Muslim creator Riz Ahmed looks into the camera
Riz Ahmed is known for his award-winning screenwriting, prolific acting and political rap performances.

Riz Ahmed is a multifaceted, jack-of-all-trades British Muslim creative and Fann favorite. He began his career as a rapper before breaking into the film industry as an actor and screenwriter. Ahmed most recently won an Oscar for his writing on the short film “The Long Goodbye” (2020), which was created simultaneously with his album of the same name. Beyond his filmmaking prowess, Ahmed is a vocal advocate for representation and social justice issues in the entertainment industry, using his platform to address racism and Islamophobia. His work both on and off-screen has solidified his status as a respected actor, rapper and activist.

Throughout his acting career, Ahmed has constantly received critical and audience acclaim for his emotional vulnerability and his ability to explore identity through his characters. Here are just a few of Riz Ahmed’s most iconic performances in projects that are currently available to stream.

1. "Nightcrawler" (2014) – In "Nightcrawler," Ahmed plays the role of Rick, a homeless man struggling to make ends meet in Los Angeles. His character becomes involved with Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal),  a freelance crime journalist who often crosses ethical boundaries to get the best news footage. Ahmed's portrayal of Rick was notable for its authenticity and humanity. He effectively conveys the desperation and vulnerability of a marginalized individual living on the fringes of society, ultimately acting as an audience conduit for the increasing anticipation and dread around Lou’s questionable actions. Rick's journey throughout the film highlights the stark contrast between those who are desperate for a break and those who exploit their desperation, making Ahmed's performance a standout in this gripping thriller.

“Nightcrawler” is currently streaming on Max.

2. "The Night Of" (2016) - This HBO miniseries revolves around Ahmed’s character Naz, a Pakistani American college student who finds himself accused of a brutal murder. Ahmed's portrayal of Naz is a slow, immersive transformation from innocence to a hardened understanding of the complexities of the criminal justice system. His performance is a study in nuance and depth, as he navigates the emotional turmoil and challenges faced by his character during the course of the series. Ahmed's portrayal earned him both critical acclaim and an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie.

“The Night Of” is currently streaming on Max.

3. "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" (2016) - In this Star Wars spin-off film, Ahmed took on the role of Bodhi Rook, a former Imperial cargo pilot who defects to the Rebel Alliance. Bodhi becomes a vital part of the mission to steal the Death Star plans. Ahmed's performance added a layer of humanity and relatability to the diverse ensemble cast. He portrayed Bodhi as a character who is brave yet vulnerable, grappling with the consequences of his past actions. Ahmed's performance contributed to the depth and diversity of characters in the Star Wars galaxy, making him a memorable addition to the franchise.

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is currently streaming on Disney+.

4. "The Sisters Brothers" (2018) - In this darkly comedic Western, Ahmed has a supporting role as Hermann Kermit Warm, a chemist with a mysterious invention who becomes the target of the titular Sisters brothers (Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly). Ahmed's portrayal of Hermann is marked by enigmatic charm and intelligence. His interactions with the bumbling and sometimes brutal Sisters brothers provide both tension and humor in the film. Ahmed's performance adds depth to the ensemble cast and showcases his versatility as an actor as he seamlessly transitions into the Western genre.

“The Sisters Brothers” is currently streaming on Amazon Freevee.

5. "Sound of Metal" (2019) - "Sound of Metal" is a profoundly moving drama in which Ahmed stars as Ruben Stone, a heavy metal drummer who experiences sudden and severe hearing loss. Ahmed's performance in this role is nothing short of remarkable. He fully immerses himself in the character, conveying the emotional turmoil and resilience of Ruben with exceptional authenticity. The film takes the audience on a deeply emotional journey as Ruben grapples with his new reality and seeks solace in a community of deaf individuals. Ahmed's dedication to the role and his ability to convey the complexity of Ruben's experience earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

“Sound of Metal” is currently streaming on Prime Video.

Riz Ahmed's career is characterized by his dedication to his craft and his ability to bring depth and authenticity to a wide range of characters. These performances have cemented his reputation as one of the most talented and respected actors in the industry.

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