by Seija Rankin | Mon., Aug. 29, 2016 3:00 AM
Readers, we have a confession to make: We love to Google. And not just for occasions like wondering whether the episode of The Bachelor is new or if Zac Efron has ever worn jean shorts (spoiler alert: they're cutoffs). No, we prefer our Googling to come in the form of near-obsessive deep dives. If we're not scrolling back into an Internet black hole, it was a search worth doing. We know we're not alone in this, so instead of joining a support group we've decided to just share the wealth. In short, we're deep diving so that you don't have to.
This week, we're taking our talents to premium cable.
Last night was a special occasion for HBO: The finale of The Night Of. The miniseries has worked its way into our national discussion, and captivated all of us. It's hard not to be mystified: A guy wakes up from a night of partying to find a woman stabbed to death. We're not here to spoil so that's all we're going to say about that; we certainly won't be delving into what happened last night because we want you to experience that for yourself.
What we are here for is to discuss Naz—he captured our hearts and minds, and, dare we say, became our collective biggest screen crush of late-summer 2016. He's cute, he's mysterious...all of this is just begging for a Google deep dive. To the findings!
We literally just watched him in Jason Bourne and didn't even realize it. One of the many, many subplots of the latest Bourne franchise centered around a backroom deal made between the CIA and a successful startup called Deep Dream, which was run by a Mark Zuckerberg-esque social media wunderkind. The other guy in that potentially dubious deal was Aaron Kalloor, played by none other than Riz Ahmed, a.k.a. Naz. He was certainly a markedly different character than the possibly murderous cab driver we know and love today, but his eyes did pierce us just the same. Oh, and we should also mention that to those who didn't see Jason Bourne but have been wondering just why he looks so familiar, it's because he played Jake Gyllenhaal's accomplice in the creepy Nightcrawler.
The real-life Riz Ahmed is way older than his characters. In Bourne he played a baby-faced young startup owner, and his The Night Of character is still a college student. But, true to Hollywood form, the actor is actually 33. He was born (and is currently based) in London, and has been toiling away trying to get his big break in the industry for over a decade. And, like seemingly all successful Brits, when he was college-aged he went to Oxford. Color us impressed.
He released a rap video under the pseudonym Riz MC in support of Britain's "remain" movement. The song is called "Englistan," and the corresponding music video is transcendent. Not only will fans of The Night Of be simply smitten that the show's resident hottie is a (kind of) bona fide rap star, but it actually has a very inspiring message—in short, it's a plea for tolerance in the wake of the pending Brexit. Plus, in the midst of learning a valuable lesson, viewers get to watch Riz skateboard and say lines like "The news is half the truth wrapped up in boobs and a--."
Everyone is really mystified by Naz's stupidity. Okay, so this isn't exactly groundbreaking information, but the further one dives into Google on the topic of The Night Of, the more one finds that there's one thing every viewer can agree on: Naz made a crap ton of bad decisions in the first episode (and yes, crap ton is the scientific term). He never turned off the medallion light on his dad's cab. He stole the murder weapon. He broke back into the scene of the crime. He put the murder weapon in his freaking jacket pocket. The Internet could go on and on. (But that said, just because we wished he would have been a little bit smarter doesn't mean we collectively love him any less.)
Naz is going to be in the new Star Wars movie. Yes, they'll make a star of him yet. Ahmed will be playing the character Bodhi Rook in the still-very-mysterious Rogue One. That means no one really knows what to expect from The Force Awakens sequel, but we do know the character is the lead fighter pilot for the Rebels.
The original pilot, that was shot with James Gandolfini, made a huge impression on the real-life Naz. The Sopranos actor was the original John Stone, as well as a producer, and the two actors shared a scene when they shot it for the first go-around. Riz has spoken about how warm and generous James was during their interactions, and that he was a true champion of moving the project forward. He also hopes that the late Gandolfini would be proud of the version that did make it to the big screen, lawyer-replacement and all.
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