Rahim plays a real person – Guantanamo Bay inmate Mohamedou Ould Salahi, who wrote his memoirs while he was held there

It has been a busy couple of months for Tahar Rahim, who started the year with terrifying and captivating millions of viewers as serial killer Charles Sobhraj on the BBC series The Serpent

He has since been on the way up the award campaign for his new film The Mauretanian, in which he plays another real person – Guantanamo Bay inmate Mohamedou Ould Salahi, who wrote his memoirs while held at the facility

The film runs for six baftas – including a nomination for Rahim in the Leading Actor category

He told the Sky News backstage podcast that the recognition was gratifying – especially since he didn’t always have support for the roles he had chosen

“It is difficult to make decisions when you are an actor – sometimes you have to say no and when you say yes you are alone,” Rahim said

“Sometimes everyone says to you, ‘No, you should have done this movie and not this one’ and I’m like, ‘Yes, but I feel this one'”

Rahim is a French actor of Algerian descent and all too familiar with tired Hollywood portrayals of terrorists

“The problem is, I read the Guantanamo Diary – it was the title at the time,” explained Rahim

“And since I’ve been offered a lot of stereotypical pieces from Hollywood and Europe in the past, I briefly thought it could be [one] of these types of pieces

“But then I said to myself, come on, you know Kevin – Kevin is a beautiful artist, is smart – he would never tell stories like that, so I read the script and signed up like that”

The legal drama tells the story of the Mauritanian Salahi, who was captured by the US government and left in the internment camp for years without charge or trial – until defense attorney Nancy Hollander (played by Jodie Foster) takes up his case

The actor hopes the film, which is being made in the first place and is now receiving so much attention, including nominations and wins, is a positive departure from the disappointing stereotypes he has faced in the past

“Hats off to Benedict Cumberbatch and Adam Ackland, who are the producers of the film And Kevin, because it has the guts to tell the story and try to make that movie in our time, you know it’s amazing “

“We’re excited to have these beautiful recognitions so that the film can be seen and the story of Mohamedou told, so that people can talk about it and maybe change something”

“So I knew about him, but when I met him for the first time I didn’t expect to meet a sun, a light, someone who was full of life, had no grudge at all, no grudge against anyone and Take root for forgiveness and peace

“So I spent time talking to him and watching him – how he talks, how he answers questions, how he jokes, because he’s very funny, has such a nice sense of humor – and, you know, trying to catch his ghost “

While it may seem that Rahim is drawn to playing characters based on real people, he says it is just a coincidence that the movie he appears in as Salahi is so soon after his presentation by Sobhraj came out

But he admits that the man often referred to as the “bikini killer” was a dream role for him for a long time – after reading a book about the criminal as a teenager

“I’ve read the book like in a couple of days and it seems like a movie to me – I could see pictures, hear the music, and hear the sound,” he said

“And of course I was naive enough to dream of being an actor and naive enough not to see the horror – what I saw was an actor playing another person, switching identities, and besides was it french

“I projected myself to play him. Twenty years later I had the offer and it was like crazy, fate can sometimes be full of surprises”

© 2021 Sky UK

Tahar Rahim

World News – GB – Backstage with star of the Mauritanian and the snake Tahar Rahim

Source: https://news.sky.com/story/backstage-with-star-of-the-mauritanian-and-the-serpent-tahar-rahim-12262792