Arresting drama zooms in on trust and mistrust
own heart of darkness.
What’s it like being somewhere like Rikers Island?
It can be really exhausting, emotionally, just putting yourself in that place.
But ultimately, you have a responsibility, within the artifice of that situation, to try and do justice to the people that have opened up to you when you’re doing the research.
That’s something that always stays with me. Kalief Browder’s story came out while we were there. It’s about a young man who’d been in Rikers for three years and committed suicide, tragically, when he was released, because of the posttraumatic stress that he experienced. These kinds of things motivate you.
How do you go about playing a character who’s constantly being told to say nothing, give nothing away?
That’s an insightful question, particularly as many of the characters I’ve played in the past have been quite expressive characters who drive the action, rather than finding themselves pushed along by events.
It was frustrating at times, but that’s perfect for what the character is feeling and I’m a big believer in using some of the dynamics and feelings that emerge from the film set.
Here I had to shut down and keep my mouth shut and just survive and make it through. That ended being quite helpful for the character. It also speaks to the precision of Steve Zaillian’s vision, where everything is about inviting the viewer to project their fears and fantasies on to the character.
That only works when it’s suitably restrained, but there’s enough going on there to draw you in.
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Riz Ahmed and John Turturro in