Tahar Rahim interview: ‘The Mauritanian’

Tahar Rahim just received his first Golden Globe Award nomination, in the Best Film Drama Actor category for portraying Mohamedou Ould Salahi in the upcoming “The Mauritanian.” The docudrama adapted from Salahi’s memoir depicts his 14-year detention at Guantanamo Bay. STX will release the film on February 12.

It has been 11 years since Rahim’s introduction in “A Prophet,” a Globe nominee for Best Foreign Language Film in which he played a fictional six-year convict. “It was like I did that before, so it helped me to get through Mohamedou,” says the actor about playing another prisoner. Rahim explains in his exclusive interview with Gold Derby (watch the video above, recorded before Globe noms were announced), “One thing that I took from my experience from ‘A Prophet’ as an actor is how to occupy a very small space — to be alone in a place and improvise things.”

The film culminates in a climactic courtroom speech, which moved Rahim to tears when he read it in the script because, “It’s the perfect sum-up of what Mohamedou’s been through and what he is and why you can get connected to him — his philosophy. It’s the climax!” In terms of shooting however, this scene was not the sum-up of Rahim’s journey in playing the character, as he reveals that they actually shot it first.

He explains, “When you make a movie, the schedule is made in a way that you go slowly into it. You start with small scenes where you don’t talk, so you can train and warm up, but we had a little schedule issue and Kevin came over to me two days before the first day of shooting and he said, ‘Listen, I’m sorry; we’ve got to change everything. You’ve got to start with the monologue — the end of the movie’.” Rahim dealt with the challenge by channeling his newfound discomfort into his performance. He recounts, “I took all the stress — the fact that I was nervous — and put it into this monologue while we were shooting.”

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UPLOADED Feb 4, 2021 1:08 pm