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Riz Ahmed lost 22 pounds in three weeks for Mogul Mowgli

Riz Ahmed said the transformation was intense (Picture: BFI)

Riz Ahmed ‘wouldn’t recommend’ losing 10 kilos in three weeks, saying it took him to ‘an intense place’. 

Following his Oscar-nominated performance in Sound of Metal, Ahmed stars in the drama Mogul Mowgli, in which he plays a British-Pakistani rapper struck down by an autoimmune disease.

For the role, the 38-year-old went through a gruelling body transformation, losing 22 pounds in less than a month.

Speaking about the effect the weight loss had on him, Ahmed told IndieWire: ‘Mogul Mowgli was about intense weight loss. I lost 10 kilos in three weeks. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. 

‘I had a professional dietician working with me, but it was really gruelling and took me emotionally to an intense place, which probably informed the movie. That was a big part of it, being in a place of weakness and fatigue and insatiable hunger.’

He added: ‘[Daniel] Kaluuya said something I liked: “If you’re in your head, you’re dead.” I think that’s true. 

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‘Acting has to be in your body. Anything that brings you into your body centres you, and you can perform in that place.’

While Ahmed played a drummer losing his hearing in Sound of Metal, he takes on another artist coping with a degenerative disease in this Bassam Tariq-directed film.

In it, he plays rapper Zed, who begins to lose control of his motor functions due to an autoimmune disease before he embarks on a European tour.

He returns to London from New York to see his Pakistani family as he deals with his illness.

Ahmed previously gained attention in British series like Dead Set and films like the critically acclaimed comedy Four Lions, before landing his breakout role in Nightcrawler opposite Jake Gyllenhaal.

epa09160063 Riz Ahmed arrives for the 93rd annual Academy Awards ceremony at Union Station in Los Angeles, California, USA, 25 April 2021. The Oscars are presented for outstanding individual or collective efforts in filmmaking in 24 categories. The Oscars happen two months later than originally planned, due to the impact of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic on cinema. EPA/Chris Pizzello / POOL *** Local Caption *** 55864152

Riz said he wouldn’t recommend the weight loss to anyone (Picture: EPA)

He went on to land Emmy nominations for his roles in Girls and The Night Of, winning for the latter and becoming the first Asian male to win an acting Emmy.

Ahmed’s nomination for best actor at the 2021 Oscars made him the first Muslim to be nominated in that category.

Also a rapper, Ahmed’s next film project is the sci-fi thriller Encounter, which had its premiere at the Telluride Film Festival this week. 


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