Idris Elba encouraged Riz Ahmed to try to make it in Hollywood.
The ‘Rogue One’ actor was pushed to go across the pond by the ‘Luther’ star, and his fellow Brit has appeared in the likes of ‘The Suicide Squad’ and ‘American Gangster’ as well as playing Heimdall in several movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Riz told Variety: “I remember having a chat with Idris Elba in London thinking, ‘Man, I’m not going to go to America. What are they going to do with someone like me over there?’
“It was terrible, this idea of no clear example or something that’s been carved out before you. He said to me, ‘Don’t categorize yourself. What have you got to lose?’”
Riz took the advice and landed a role in 2014’s ‘Nightcrawler’, and two years later he was cast as Nasir Khan in HBO drama ‘The Night Of’.
He said: “I didn’t really think a career was viable for me until 10 years into it, so early on I felt like I had to work on developing a lot of range.
“After ‘The Night Of’ popped, I felt a sense of momentum. It happens to a lot of people. The roller-coaster nature of this business keeps you on your toes and stops you from getting complacent.”
The ‘Four Lions’ star also spoke about his acting inspirations, which included Al Pacino.
He added: “Pacino was someone who didn’t look that phyally different from me, being able to play such a wide range of roles. As a young, testosterone’d-out teenager in love with ‘The Godfather,’ ‘Heat’ and ‘Scarface,’ he was the common denominator. I admired him, but I didn’t feel there was a clear blueprint or template to follow.”
Throughout his career, the 38-year-old actor has developed a passion for finding himself in the characters he portrays.
He explained: “Of course, if you believe on some deep internal level that you aren’t the right type — the right color, shape, size, accent — then you will start instinctively wearing masks.
“So it’s been a shift in self-perception for me to say, ‘You know what? I am enough. We are all enough.’ “