Keanu Reeves photographed by
Simon Emmett for
Esquire Magazine (March 2017)
“I loved to go to the movies as a kid and I loved watching movies. I don’t know if it was escapism. Even the act of going outside to the movies for me, and watching them in a room. I wanted to be there, you know? I wanted to do that. And that happened in Hollywood! So, I wanted to act in movies. In Hollywood. It was my dream! Whatever that meant.”
Sherilyn Fenn, Sheryl Lee and Lara Flynn Boyle by Isabel Snyder for Esquire Magazine, October 1998, from the article “Three Women, One Peek. Sheryl Lee, Sherilyn Fenn and Lara Flynn Boyle Finally Leave David Lynch’s World. Almost.” by Ted Allen
Riz Ahmed’s first big break also happened to be his first blacklisting. In 2006, his satirical song “Post 9/11 Blues,” released under his rap moniker Riz MC (sample lyric: “Post 9/11 I been getting paid / Playing terrorists on telly, getting songs made”), was swiftly banned from the radio by the British government.
It took him a decade to elbow his way into Hollywood, going from vaguely familiar face to leading man in the course of one dizzying year with 2016’s Jason Bourne, The Night Of, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. But at no point did Ahmed hold back on getting out his message about being brown in the Western world.
In 2014, he wrote and directed the short film Daytimer, which draws from his own experience “code-switching between a traditional Pakistani household, a predominantly white upper-middle-class private school where I was on scholarship, and cutting class to go hang out on the streets.” “But I’m not here on some kind of tribalism trip,” he adds. “That’s what got us into this mess.”
He loves looking out into the crowd at one of his concerts and seeing “girls in hijabs moshing out with white hipster dudes and gay Latinos.” Being typecast can be frustrating, but great things can come out of every challenge. “When there isn’t a paved sidewalk for you to walk on, it’s hitting the bushes with a machete in your hand and trying to slash out a path.” And the path of most resistance turns out to be a hell of a lot more interesting.