(NEW YORK) — Aml Ameen can confidently say it was kismet how he landed the lead role of Dennis in Idris Elba’s directorial debut, Yardie. After Ameen connected with Elba on a plane — and eventually secured his role as the Jamaican gangster, D — the actor tells ABC Radio he discovered a deep connection to his character.
“I mean my family is Jamaican, so I’ve always got an attachment,” Ameen says. “And that’s part of the reason why I wanted to be in the film so much.”
However, becoming D wasn’t easy. Ameen had to learn the Jamaican patois, as well as connect to a dark and traumatic past. Yet the actor admits it was a worthwhile experience.
“I enjoyed being D,” he says. “We as westerners, like American and British, we’re a bit more apologetic. But Jamaicans are in your face. They’re honest, they don’t break a stare. They just call it like it is. And I loved that. It taught me not to give as much of a crap about things.”
Ameen also reveals that Elba let him cultivate his character during filming. But when it came time for his character to become a [DJ] selector, Elba — himself a DJ — was happy to be his guide.
“I followed him around for a bit, actually,” Ameen reveals. “Around some of his tour dates in the UK and that music life is not a joke. Idris is a machine.”
Looking back, Ameen says Yardie offers some major takeaways, including learning to face trauma and “look it in the eye.”
“And that’s one of the things I took away from it, he says. “Just to look at my own life and go, “OK, what am I doing right? What Am I doing wrong?… How do I grow?”
Yardie is in theaters now.
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