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Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: I am inspired by Indian filmmaking

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Hollywood’s Emmy-winning actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is deeply inspired by different facets of Indian culture, but it is the style of filmmaking which interests him the most.

Here are the excerpts from our chat with the award-winning actor.

* We hear you are really inspired by Indian culture. Can you share a bit about it?

Ohh, yes, that’s true. I am indeed inspired by a lot of things from India.

* What are the things about Indian culture which come to your mind when we mention India?

I instantly think about the filmmaking style, thinking about the music, colours, the fashion and other aspects of the culture.

* What about Indian filmmaking you like?

When it comes to filmmaking, how all of the (aspect of the culture) is infused into one, I hope it is a respectable term, into a spectacle. I mean it is the movies and the movie going experience which is really exciting, and exhilarating for me. That is one aspect which influences me a lot.

* You mention that you seek inspiration from real life as an actor. Can you explain how it helps you in your craft?

In some ways, it helps an actor to live a full life to add your experiences and things appropriately.

* But what about other times when you can’t take reference from real life?

At other times, it helps to have a rich imagination and just to make up stories and things like that as well.

* Can you explain it with any recent example?

Yes, well, for instance, in Ambulance, I relied on what it feels like to have an elder brother, to copy my brother, but also to try to rebel and to do my own thing, then fighting with my sisters.

* How?

Being one of my five siblings, and fighting for voice and wanting to be seen and make my own identity. It is these opportunities to take from real life and to put into a role (which is important), which I did with Ambulance.

* Talking about Ambulance, the film was shot in Los Angeles. How did the city influence the storyline?

The great financial need is right in the midst of the backdrop, be it when we are in Beverly Hills, affluent parts of California, or somewhere else. It is seen in the film as well when we see my character and Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, which also drives their actions. And ambition is a very huge part of the narrative in the film.

* Any particular instance from shooting which continues to stay in your mind?

We shot at the Los Angeles River and the convention center. It was interesting to drive through that maze, which was really stretching out making it feel like a much larger route than it actually was. It took some creativity, ingenuity, and a lot of our skills to shoot at that location.

* The whole of Hollywood is nestled in Los Angeles, with so many films being shot in the city at the same time. Tell us, how does the city inspire the industry?

I will tell you, just within a 20 minute drive in the city, you can see several different lifestyles and see different ambitions. It shows the possibility of what could be is always right in front of your face in some way or another. For the less financially fortunate, there’s always an opportunity to see what could be done to have something you desire (which is also seen in the projects).

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