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Encounter Cast & Crew on Bringing Representation to Thrillers

Encounter Cast & Crew on Bringing Representation to Thrillers

Out chats with Riz Ahmed, Octavia Spencer, and Michael Pearce about their new Amazon Prime Video drama.

Riz Ahmed and Octavia Spencer are combining their star power for Prime Video's latest title Encounter.

Though viewers are led to believe that it starts out as a dystopian, sci-fi thriller where a man named Malik Khan is on a mission to save his two young sons from some kind of mind-controlling parasitic threat from outer space, as the film progresses, we see that Malik, a former Marine who is suffering from mental health issues, might be the one who needs saving by his sons.

Out got the chance to speak with the film's stars, including Oscar-nominated actor Riz Ahmed, Oscar winner Octavia Spencer, Aditya Geddada, Lucian-River Chauhan, as well as co-writer and director Michael Pearce, about bringing representation to a film and a character type that would normally have been written for a white actor, the familial, father-son bond between Ahmed and the boys on set, the film's timely themes and messages, and so much more.

"The original script was written for a white actor, I think, 'cause it's almost the default setting for that archetype," Pearce told Out. "It was one of those fortunate situations where Riz came across the project. I think his agent sent it to him and he was really intrigued and he wanted to meet. And at the same time, his agent sent me a copy of Sound of Metal, which only a few people had seen at the Toronto Film Festival. And it just blew me away and Riz broke my heart. I just suddenly became really excited by the possibility of him playing this role. Riz just spoke a lot about how the film was defying genre expectations and it could also defy the expectations of who you get to see play this part. How many South Asian Americans do you see play an ex-serviceman or Marines? It's really rare. That was exciting and it didn't mean that we had to dramatically rewrite the film because effectively, it's still a universal story about a father and his sons trying to get through a very traumatic crisis, but it added so many layers of complexity to the material and it just felt much more fresh."

Encounter is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

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