The "Rawness, Emotionally" of 'Sound of Metal': 'THR Presents' Q&A With Co-Stars Riz Ahmed, Paul Raci and Director Darius Marder

When Ahmed's heavy-metal drummer Ruben starts losing his hearing, his struggles resonate both universally and with two less-represented communities: "The punk world and deaf culture."

Sound of Metal director Darius Marder and its stars Riz Ahmed and Paul Raci sat down with Tatiana Siegel of The Hollywood Reporter to discuss their acclaimed film in a THR Presents Q&A powered by Vision Media. 

Golden Globe nominee Ahmed stars in the film as Ruben, the drummer of a heavy metal duo known as Blackgammon fronted by Ruben's girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke). While the pair tours the country in the RV they call home, Ruben suddenly begins to experience hearing loss as a result of the piercing volume of their music. With his creative pursuit — and his sobriety — suddenly facing an immense new obstacle, Ruben turns to a sober-living facility that caters to members of the deaf community run by Paul Raci's character, Joe, where he is encouraged to accept that the loss of his hearing doesn't have to be a handicap.

Ahmed said he was initially impressed with the way the script (which Marder co-wrote with his brother, Abraham) navigated two communities that he hadn't seen portrayed on film before. "It had a kind of rawness to it, emotionally speaking, and it was really specific in terms of the world it was setting," he said. "I hadn't read any scripts set in the punk world or within deaf culture."

For Raci, who was raised by deaf parents and is fluent in American Sign Language, the script's authenticity immediately drew him in. "Not only have I been acting, but I've had other jobs within the deaf community as a sign language interpreter, working in addiction programs, working in the court system," Raci said. "I felt as though I had been preparing for this role for about 40 years. Everything that happens in this script, I've been witness to."

Another key aspect for Raci was that the film's cast included several deaf actors, and he admited he was marveled by — and excited to watch — Ahmed's interactions with them on set. "To watch Riz communicate with these deaf actors was so beautiful and heartwarming for me, to see him making friends and connections. I just thought that was awesome."

To help his actors strive for authenticity throughout production, Marder decided to film the movie chronologically — which he admitted is "the quickest way to piss off producers." But the choice also allowed the actors to experience the central journey in the way an audience would. "There was a whole physical chronology to the journey," Marder said. "By the end, there's been an experience that everybody's shared. And that's actually really contagious, I think for everyone, because everyone shares that experience in different ways."

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