Ahmed performing in 2011.
1 December 1982
Wembley, London, England
|Alma mater||Christ Church, Oxford|
|Associated acts||Swet Shop Boys, Heems, Plan B, Sway, Distance|
Rizwan "Riz" Ahmed (Urdu: رضوان احمد; born 1 December 1982), also known as Riz MC, is a British actor and rapper. As an actor, he was initially known for his work in independent films such as The Road to Guantanamo, Shifty, Four Lions, Trishna, and Ill Manors, before his breakout role in Nightcrawler. Since then, he has appeared in the films Una, Jason Bourne, and the first Star Wars anthology film, Rogue One. He also starred in the HBO miniseries The Night Of as Nasir Khan; the show and his performance were critically lauded, earning him Golden Globe and SAG nominations.
Ahmed was born in Wembley, London, into a Muslim British Pakistani family. His parents moved to England from Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan during the 1970s. One of his relatives was Sir Shah Muhammad Sulaiman, the first Indian judge to be appointed by the British in Uttar Pradesh, who also had interests in Urdu poetry, penned some of the very first critical articles on Einstein's theory of relativity, and himself was the descendant of Mulla Mahmud Jaunpuri (d. 1652), one of the most important philosopher–scientists produced in the region during the Mughal Empire.
Ahmed attended Merchant Taylors' School, Northwood through a scholarship programme. He graduated from Christ Church, Oxford University, with a degree in PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics), which he has said he found to be a bizarre experience. He later studied acting at the Central School of Speech and Drama.
Television and film
Ahmed's film career began in the Michael Winterbottom film The Road to Guantanamo, in which he played the part of Shafiq Rasul, a member of the Tipton Three. He and another actor involved in the film were detained at Luton Airport upon their return from the Berlin Film Festival where the film won a Silver Bear Award. In 2007 he portrayed Sohail Waheed in the Channel 4 drama, Britz. Ahmed then portrayed Riq in the five-part horror thriller Dead Set for E4 and Manesh Kunzru in ITV1's Wired in 2008. In July 2009 he appeared in Freefall alongside Sarah Harding. He featured in the title role of the 2009 independent film Shifty, directed by Eran Creevy. Ahmed plays a charismatic young drug dealer in the film which sees a life in the day of this character. He was nominated for Best Actor at the 2008 British Independent Film Awards for this role, alongside Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson.
Continuing his film career, he featured in the 2009 Sally Potter production of Rage and in 2010, in Chris Morris' satire on terrorism, Four Lions, for which he received his second British Independent Film Award nomination for Best Actor. Ahmed also had a supporting role in Neil Marshall's historical thriller Centurion.
In 2012, he starred as one of the leading roles in the London-based film Ill Manors, directed by Plan B as Aaron. Ahmed received his third British Independent Film Award nomination for Best Actor. He assumed the lead role in Mira Nair's adaptation of the best-selling novel by Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, alongside Kate Hudson, Kiefer Sutherland, Om Puri, Shabana Azmi, and Liev Schreiber.
In 2014, Ahmed appeared in Dan Gilroy's directorial debut film Nightcrawler where he played role of Rick, opposite Jake Gyllenhaal. Ahmed received acclaim for his portrayal in the film and gained numerous awards nominations during awards season. In 2016, Ahmed played the role of Nasir "Naz" Khan in the HBO miniseries The Night Of, and once again received universal praise for his performance, earning him Golden Globe and SAG nominations. Also that year, he appeared in Rogue One, the first film in the new Star Wars anthology films as Bodhi Rook, a defected imperial pilot.
Ahmed played a role in the Asian Dub Foundation opera Gaddafi and a starring role as psychotic serial-killer-turned-born-again-Christian Lucius in the Lighthouse Theatre's acclaimed production of Stephen Adly Guirgis's Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train (directed by Jack William Clift and Thomas Sweatman) as well as in Shan Khan's Prayer Room.
In 2006, Ahmed released a satirical social-commentary rap track entitled "Post 9/11 Blues". The song was initially banned from British airplay because the lyrics were deemed "politically sensitive". Other tracks he has released include "Sour Times" which was accompanied by a video featuring Scroobius Pip, Plan B and Jim Sturgess.
He was selected as a BBC Introducing artist in 2007, playing the Glastonbury Festival and the BBC Electric Proms. He opened the Meltdown Festival with Bristol-based trip-hop group Massive Attack at the Royal Festival Hall in 2008, and was appointed 'Emerging Artist in Residence' at the Southbank Centre in London. He played at the London Camp for Climate Action in August 2009.
Ahmed is also half of the hip hop duo Swet Shop Boys along with Heems. Their debut release, Swet Shop EP, was released in 2014. The group's debut full-length effort, Cashmere, was released on 14 October 2016, and received critical acclaim.
He is also featured in The Hamilton Mixtape, which topped the Billboard 200 chart. This puts him in the unique position of sitting at number-one on both the Billboard 200 album chart and the movie box office chart (with Rogue One) at the same time.
In 2016, he released the nine-track mixtape, Englistan.
|2006||The Path to 9/11||Yosri||2 episodes|
|2006||Berry's Way||Amir||Television film|
|2007||Britz||Sohail Wahid||2 episodes|
|2008||Wired||Manesh Kunzru||3 episodes|
|2008||Dead Set||Riq||5 episodes|
|2011||The Fades||Neil||Episode: "Episode 1"|
|2016||The Night Of||Nasir Khan||Miniseries
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
Pending — SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series
|2016||The OA||Elias Rahim||4 episodes|
|2017||Girls||Paul-Louis||Episode: "All I Ever Wanted"|
- Microscope (2011)
- Englistan (2016)
- "The Post 9/11 Blues" (2006)
- "People Like People" (2007)
- "Radar" (2008)
- "Shifty" (with Sway & Plan B) (2009)
- "Don't Sleep" (2009)
- "Hundreds and Thousands" (2010)
- "Get on It" (2010)
- "All of You" (2011)
- "Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)" from The Hamilton Mixtape (2016)
- "Riz Ahmed: 'You don't need to tell me we live in scary times. I'm Muslim'". The Guardian. 23 July 2016.
- London Meets Lahore India Today, 24 May 2013
- Robert S. Anderson, Nucleus and Nation: Scientists, International Networks, and Power in India, University of Chicago Press (2010), p. 71
- KARACHI: Sir Sulaiman Dawn News, 14 March 2005
- Karimullah, A. R. Ghani, Biographical Notes on Eminent Muslim Scientists of South-Asia in the 14th Century Hijra: 1877-1979 A.D, Pakistan Science Foundation and Pakistan Academy of Sciences (1989), p. 5
- "Skin Deep meets Riz Ahmed".
- "Guantanamo duo 'held' at airport". BBC News. 21 February 2006.
- "Winners 2008". BIFA. Retrieved 23 July 2016.
- Black, Claire (2 November 2014). "Riz Ahmed winning rave reviews for new film role". The Scotsman. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
- Birnbaum, Debra (29 August 2016). "Riz Ahmed on the 'Devastating' Finale of HBO's 'The Night Of' (Spoilers)". Variety. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
- Levine, Nick (20 December 2016). "Riz Ahmed reveals how his 'Rogue One' character changed during shooting". NME. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
- O'Keefe, Alice (9 April 2006). "Rapper asks BBC to play 9/11 song". The Guardian.
- "Microscope by Riz MC". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
- "Quantic presents The Western Transient A New Constellation | News". Tru Thoughts. 2015-07-10. Retrieved 2015-07-17.
- "Distance: When hype fades, things become a lot clearer". Skiddle.com. 2015-02-25. Retrieved 2015-07-17.
- Holub, Christian (7 September 2016). "The Night Of star Riz Ahmed drops a new song with Heems, Zayn Malik". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
- Sacher, Andrew (5 December 2014). "Swet Shop Boys (Heems + Riz MC) released an EP, playing Baby's w/ Wiki; Ratking playing Brooklyn Night Bazaar". BrooklynVegan. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
- Nordine, Michael (9 October 2016). "'The Night Of' Star Riz Ahmed Releases New Album 'Cashmere' With Heems — Listen". IndieWire. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
- "Rogue One star Riz Ahmed shares childhood Star Wars drawings: 'Keep your inner child alive'". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
- Lee, Chris (13 December 2016). "'Rogue One' Is the Cherry on Top of a Wild Year for Riz Ahmed". Complex. Retrieved 12 January 2017.