Actor Riz Ahmed Opens Up about Brutal Weight Loss Experience for Movie

The British Primetime Emmy Award winner dished on the extreme actions he had to take to befit the character he played, including starving himself for a couple of weeks.

Riz Ahmed was recently interviewed via Zoom by IndieWire about his 2020 drama film "Mogul Mowgli," which required him to relook his eating habits to portray the role.

The movie is based on a British Pakistani rapper named Zed, who has a degenerative autoimmune disease. Ahmed wrote the film along with director Bassam Tariq.

Riz Ahmed attends the GQ Men of the Year party at Chateau Marmont on December 8, 2016 in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images

Riz Ahmed attends the GQ Men of the Year party at Chateau Marmont on December 8, 2016 in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images

PLAYING ZED

For the "Venom" star to tap into character for the film, he underwent a grueling physical transformation and explained what it took for him to master it, saying:

“'Mogul Mowgli' was about intense weight loss. I lost 10 kilos (22 pounds) in three weeks. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.”

Actor Riz Ahmed at the world premiere of "Venom" at the Regency Village Theater on October 1, 2018 in Los Angeles | Photo: Shutterstock

Actor Riz Ahmed at the world premiere of "Venom" at the Regency Village Theater on October 1, 2018 in Los Angeles | Photo: Shutterstock

Ahmed shared he even worked with a professional dietician and that the experience was unbearable for him, adding it took him to an emotionally intense space that informed the movie.

The London-born rapper added a big part of the uncomfortable efforts he made included being in a place of weakness, fatigue, and insatiable hunger. 

While discussing the physical demands the role took on him, Ahmed quoted fellow actor Daniel Kaluuya about the art of portraying a character.

“Daniel Kaluuya said something I liked: ‘If you’re in your head, you’re dead. I think that’s true. Acting has to be in your body. Anything that brings you into your body centers you, and you can perform in that place,” he said.

PLAYING RUBEN

His role comes not long after playing another musician on-screen in "The Sound of Metal," a 2019 film in which he starred as a drummer named Ruben, who is gradually losing his hearing.

Once again, to embody the character, Ahmed had to go through another dramatic physical appearance, although it was not extreme this time around.

Similarly, he worked with a professional trainer Leighton Grant II as he wanted to be ripped for the role. Grant told Men’s Journal that they managed to pull off the transformation in just three months.

Ahmed had a special diet and had training that focused on muscle building resulting in him working out four days a week with one day dedicated to boxing.

The award-winning movie star received an Oscar nomination for the role. Even though he did not win, he made a red-carpet debut with his wife, novelist Fatima Farheen Mirza, at the Academy Awards in 2021.  

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