LOS ANGELES — When music and sound are your two passions, and you suddenly lose those two things due to hearing loss, the journey is heart wrenching.
That journey is depicted by actor Riz Ahmed in the acclaimed film Sound of Metal, where Ahmed plays a heavy metal drummer who loses his hearing.
The film, distributed by Amazon Studios has garnered Ahmed a SAG nomination for outstanding performance by a male actor in a leading role.
He said portraying a person that experiences hearing loss gave him a deeper understanding of the deaf community and taught him the importance of stillness.
“I think that the journey that Ruben goes on in this film, is one where he’s forced to disconnect from the stuff that keeps him going, he’s forced to disconnect from the treadmill of what he thought was his purpose. And when you do that, you have to face the void. And that can be scary, and that silence can be really confronting,” Ahmed said.
Ahmed trained immensely for the role in the film, learning both the drums and American Sign Language.
Playing the character of Ruben Stone allowed him to develop a deep connection with the deaf community, creating real life, lifelong friendships. He also developed a deep connection with himself, learning to find serenity in simplicity.
“Working on this film certainly kind of underlined to me the importance of that you know. It underlined to me, the importance of trying to find that stillness, embrace that void, rather than running away from it, like we all often do as workaholics in our culture,” he explained.
And as he learned sign language, he discovered the power of body movement as a means of deeper self-expression.
“Ha, I’m getting more emotional talking about this, as if I just used words, and so, in a way, the deaf community taught me the true meaning of the word communication,” he said.
Ahmed hopes the film will provide a more layered understanding of the deaf community.