Aml Ameen shares his deep connection to his ‘Yardie’ character, and the message behind Idris Elba’s film

Photo by Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage(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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