Riz Ahmed says a lot of material in his new movie ill Manors was based on reality. The film released earlier this month is set in the backdrop of the unforgiving streets of London.
It follows seven disparate lives, all struggling to survive the circles of violence that engulfs them.
Riz said of his character Aaron, “During the course of the film what we see are kind of small events that kind of add up to throw his life completely off track from where it was headed. It’s really down to him to decide whether that new direction is something he wants to embrace or not.
“He’s a young guy who doesn’t have much family and doesn’t have that much direction in life.
“I think hopefully we can all relate to the character and to characters in this film in general, even if our lives aren’t as messy or troubled as theirs.
“For me it was in terms of getting into the character, hopefully it’s the same journey that the audience will go on, which is that it’s not necessarily the same as my life at all, but the writing and the characterization of the story kind of draws you into it until you invest enough and you feel like that person is fighting your battle.
“So that’s the kind of journey I went on acting in and hopefully that’s something the audience will go on as well.”
He said he enjoyed working with director Ben Drew. “I’m really familiar with Ben’s work. I loved his first album and ever since we linked up and started collaborating together on music, videos and tracks, we kind of struck up a friendship and we keep in touch as much as his insane schedule allows.
“So I’m really familiar with his work and I remember actually once when I went to his house and he was telling me about iLL Manors for the first time.
“He’s great to work with because he has got a really clear idea of what he wants and I think that’s a reassuring element in a director if they have a really clear idea of what they want, but at the same time if they’re too prescriptive it can be a bit suffocating.
Other characters in the film, ex-drug dealer Kirby (KEITH COGGINS), who attempts to readjust back into the treacherous streets that put him away 15 years ago, and in doing so encounters local gangster Chris (LEE ALLEN), on his own warpath, and out for revenge.
The youngest of them all is Jake (RYAN DE LA CRUZ INDIANDA), who finds a dark and icy acceptance in a local gang lead by Marcel (NICKOLAS SAGAR).
The outsider, Katya (NATALIE PRESS), races through the London streets to escape her sex traffickers and stumbles upon Aaron (Riz) the central protagonist, just trying to do the right thing - but torn between his head and his heart.