Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Adeel Akhtar on being a Muslim funnyman

LONDON: Adeel Akhtar has a face that you could stare at for hours. You might call it hangdog, but in those dark, rather tired eyes there is both a humanity and a sense of humour, a hint of irony and a sense of resignation.

It’s a face that has served Akhtar well in the past few years: he’ll be familiar to TV audiences for roles in three highly acclaimed series; Unforgotten, The Night Manager and BBC One’s psychological thriller River, and on film for his parts as Naveed in The Big Sick, Smee in Joe Wright’s Pan and as a bumbling jihadist in his breakthrough role in Four Lions in 2010.

Last year, his reputation soared when he won a Best Actor Bafta for his devastating, all-consuming performance as a patriarch raging at his daughter’s disobedience to deadly effect in the BBC Three drama Murdered by My Father, becoming the first non-white British actor to do so. I imagine that doors duly swung open, with Akhtar being allowed that rare chance to play a range of roles that are not specifically created for Asian actors.

“I am sitting down with people more — people are more interested in stuff I have to say: producers, directors, journalists. They want my perspective,” he says.

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