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Encounter's Riz Ahmed Chooses His Favorite Movie Of All Time - Exclusive

Actor Riz Ahmed has been appearing on screen since 2006, and during that time, he's racked up some of the most notable credits of any young actor around. His first big breakout was the 2010 film "Four Lions," in which he played a would-be terrorist whose plans come to hapless ends, while 2014 brought him a striking supporting turn as a homeless person who becomes the assistant to a viciously amoral crime scene photographer (Jake Gyllenhaal) in "Nightcrawler."

Ahmed crossed over to the mainstream in a huge way in 2016, with a featured role as Bodhi Rook in "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" and an Emmy-winning lead role — the first for a Muslim actor — in the HBO limited series, "The Night Of." He went up for Oscar gold — another first for a Muslim actor, as well as one of South Asian descent — in 2020's "Sound of Metal," playing a drummer who suddenly goes deaf, while also taking his first steps into the superhero genre the year before as the villain in "Venom" and co-writing the rap-based drama "Mogul Mowgli."

Ahmed's latest effort is "Encounter," a unique blend of sci-fi and psychological drama in which he plays a troubled Marine Corps veteran saving his sons from an unseen menace. While the actor tells Looper that he's "open to all of it" when it comes to acting in different types of films, his favorite movie of all time is a benchmark for its genre and a movie that Ahmed says is "such a subversive film."

Riz Ahmed calls his favorite movie 'bold and groundbreaking'

If you ask Riz Ahmed to name his favorite movie, he doesn't hesitate very long to give his answer. "Probably 'Goodfellas,'" he responds, choosing Martin Scorsese's 1990 Mafia masterpiece starring Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, and Joe Pesci. "It's just such an enjoyable film. At the same time, it's such a subversive film. From a cinematic point of view, it's so bold and groundbreaking, so many of the editing techniques in there. The use of voiceover was so rule-breaking and game-changing [and] the way it plays with time."

"Goodfellas," based on the true story of mid-level mob-soldier-turned-government-witness Henry Hill (Liotta), remains not just one of the greatest Mafia movies of all time but a genuine cinematic landmark. Scorsese's storytelling techniques, the use of editing that Ahmed notes, his needle drops and the movie's unsettling ability to make street criminals, murderers, and drug dealers into charismatic characters all contribute to making "Goodfellas" endlessly watchable, no matter how many times you've seen it.

"It's just one of those films that whenever it's on TV or whenever you catch it, you're just like, 'Okay, we've got to watch it. Let's just turn the phone off. We got to just get through this one,'" says Ahmed. "I love that film. I just think it's an undeniable movie. You show it to anyone who hasn't seen that movie before, I don't think anyone will say, 'Yeah. Okay. I'm not interested. Turn it off.' Everyone's gripped by it. Everyone."

You won't get any argument from us, Riz.

"Encounter" is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.