Riz Ahmed has lost two family members to COVID-19, the actor-musician revealed Monday. In an interview with GQ Hype, the Star Wars and Venom actor discussed the recent release of his March album The Long Goodbye—and how he’s been coping with both the pandemic and canceling his album’s planned narrative, theatrical tour, converting it instead into a series of virtual gatherings. Soon after the interview took place, Ahmed revealed that two of his family members had died.
“This moment is forcing people to take their masks off,” Ahmed told GQ writer Ciaran Thapar of the coronavirus pandemic. “You see more of someone in a moment like this—what they are about, who they are.”
Contemplating what the outbreak has revealed about the state of the world at this moment, Ahmed added, “We’re accelerating towards a world of closed borders, a fear of the outsider, governments with sweeping powers. And equally, we’re accelerating towards the fact that the economy doesn’t come first. Lives come first. The planet comes first. Our general wellbeing comes first.”
Given all of the realities the global pandemic has laid bare, Ahmed added, “We have to reimagine community and how interconnected we are. In a way, we’ve never been more isolated, but we’ve also never been going through such similar experiences simultaneously. The community feels really small right now—the person who you’re isolating with—but it also feels absolutely global. There will be voices who want to disconnect us out of fear and there will be voices who say the only way we can get through crazy shit like this is together.”
Thapar first spoke with Ahmed on April 1, and followed up by phone weeks later. After a few hours had passed, Ahmed sent Thapar a message via WhatsApp: “Didn’t mention it in our interview but wanted to,” he wrote. “Since we spoke I have lost two family members to Covid. I just want to believe their deaths and all the others aren’t for nothing. We gotta step up to reimagine a better future.”