Riz Ahmed spat on Danny Boyle and tore his shirt in his Slumdog Millionaire audition

Ben Arnold
UK Movies Writer
Ahmed… spat on Danny Boyle and ripped his shirt open during an audition – Credit: Reuters

Physically assaulting the director in an audition is always a bit of a gamble, but Riz Ahmed clearly reckoned that going the extra mile for Danny Boyle would be worth it.

Ahmed was up for the lead in the Oscar-winning ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ from 2008, and decided to go in all guns blazing to get the part.

But, while in conversation with ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ star Elisabeth Moss for Variety, he called it ‘probably my worst audition’.

When Boyle decided Riz wasn’t right for the lead role (it went to Dev Patel), he asked him to go for the part of his brother instead.

Which is when things got physical.

“I did this scene where I’m kind of shouting at Danny, Danny’s playing the other character,” he reveals.

“He calls action, and before you know it, I’ve got Danny Boyle up against the wall. I’m like screaming in his face. Like spitting in his face. I’ve ripped the seams of his shirt open and started spitting into Danny Boyle’s naked chest.


“He’s pressing a red button on the wall and says ‘Cut.’ Danny looks at me and goes, ‘Ok, cut. Alright, Riz, thanks a lot for coming in.’

“And the thing is, I walked out of that audition going, ‘I nailed that.’ I was so into that. I could feel my passion.”

It’s not done his career too much damage (neither Patel’s), however, Ahmed going on to scoop roles in ‘Rogue One’, ‘Nightcrawler’, ‘Jason Bourne’ and the upcoming ‘The Sisters Brothers’ from visionary French director Jacques Audiard.

Though oddly, he’s still not worked with Danny Boyle…

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