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Riz Ahmed Learned Drums for ‘Sound of Metal’

Another reason to love Riz Ahmed.

sound of metal
sound of metal

Riz Ahmed’s Oscar buzz keeps growing. The “Sound of Metal” actor impressively learned how to play the drums for the role. According to Variety, Ahmed went fully method with his approach to learning the instrument. His drumming teacher, Guy Licata said:

He was just so dedicated. We didn’t take any short cuts. We pushed each other. Riz was so into it, he began asking me how to break down a cymbal stand or move a bass drum.

Ahmed had to make sure he could convincingly play the drums by day one of shooting. The film was shot chronologically so the opening concert scene was also the first scene filmed. Director Darius Marder explained the importance of shooting chronologically:

It put a huge amount of pressure on Riz to learn in time for us to start. [And] that didn’t just set the tone for the movie, it’s how Riz embodies the character, how he becomes Ruben, which continues to be part of him until the end of the film.  That’s what real acting is… not pretending, but embodying.

Although Ahmed hadn’t known how to play the drums before “Sound of Metal,” he still had plenty of music experience. Ahmed has been rapping since his mid teens under the name Riz Mc. In 2016 he was featured on “The Hamilton Mixtape,” which debuted atop the Billboard 200. The following year, he was nominated for a VMA award for his work on “The Hamilton Mixtape.”

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The fact that Ahmed learned drums for “Sound of Metal” will undoubtably be part of his Oscar campaign. Actors learning an instrument on their way towards a Best Actor nomination as been a trend of sorts recently. Ryan Gosling learned piano for “La La Land” and Bradley Cooper learned both piano and guitar for “A Star Is Born.”