Aml Ameen on ‘The Maze Runner’ & More

You’ve seen Aml Ameen before–in The ButlerRed Tails and on NBC’s Harry’s Law.

Now the British import is getting ready to take on perhaps his biggest role yet as Alby in the young adult thriller The Maze Runner, in theaters Friday.

We chatted with Ameen about his role, what’s next and what he likes to do when he’s not busy acting.

JET: How is Alby different from your previous roles? How are you similar to the character/different?

Aml Ameen: He’s trapped in this alternative world where survival depends on order and family coming together. He has quite a physical presence: I hit the gym hard with my buddy Ki Hong Lee (Minho) to get bigger for the role. But ultimately, we share many similarities–we’re both dedicated to family, both would sacrifice for the progression of our pack. It’s my belief that most parts I align myself with are various parts of myself, just with a different name and circumstances. I like to think of it like that.

JET: What has been your favorite role so far and why?

AA: I’m starting to feel my favorite part is the one I’m playing right now in the Wachoski’s new Netflix series Sense8. Capheus is unlike anyone, or any part I’ve brought to life. A compassionate, joyous Kenyan man, with high morals and a strong sense of justice, but has a real addiction to saving his mother, who’s dying of the aids virus. Which then leads to finding himself in extraordinarily dangerous circumstances.

JET: Can you tell us a little bit more about Sense8?

AA: It’s about eight different people from around the world that are connected spiritually and begin to literally experience each other’s emotions, thoughts, and feelings. It’s the most fascinating project conceptually that I’ve ever been a part of. The Wachowskis are authentic legends and are ahead of their time. This show will bring something to TV that has never been experienced before. Capheus is an exciting character cannot wait for the world to meet him.

JET: Wow, that sounds intense! What about the indie project you’re working on, Lila and Eve?

AA: Lila and Eve is my film with Viola Davis and Jennifer Lopez. I play Viola’s son and it’s a revenge story. There’s also a film by new director Anthony Onah Dara Ju (which in Nigerian means “to be better”) that I begin after Sense8, and it will mark my first leading dramatic role in the US. It’s a father-son story, about a young Nigerian-American who needs to reconcile the various sides of himself in order to repair the complex relationship with his father. The film is set to the backdrop of New York and Wall Street.

JET: Very cool! You’ve played some different characters, what is your dream role and why?

AA: It’s interesting – my dream role recently slipped out of my hands, at least for now. I’m now trying to dream some new dreams. One of them would be directing an epic saga about ancient historical times. But yeah, my dream role is no longer.

JET: So sorry to hear that! What do you like to do when you’re not acting?

AA: I’m learning I love being in nature, and I really enjoy my family. I’m going to take up boxing again after Sense8 is finished filming. Enjoy just being. I would love more time to read again.

JET: Totally understandable. If you could choose another profession, what would it be and why?

AA: I sometimes dream of being an activist of sorts: my girl, my brother, my family in general really embody those qualities. We’re very much about the progression of people. I’m very interested in making certain I encourage people to live a full life and go after the things they desire – even if you fail, the pursuit is rewarding. I have this fantasy that in a past life I was a part of an empire that governed changes in the world, honest changes, and brought joy to people’s lives. (Laughs). I guess that’s why I’m an actor, to explore various versions of myself, without ever having to make a choice.

JET: Nice! So what’s next for you after your next projects wrap?

AA: After the busiest year of my life has calmed down, I’m going to focus on my company AmeenDream Entertainment. We have a few films in development, and with a bit of luck we’ll have one in the can 2015. But I get back in the director’s chair end of year directing a series of short film music videos for my brother Mikel Ameen. He’s a rap artist and even saying that is a limiting statement. His album World Changer Rap comes out this year and I’m gonna shoot some very innovative stuff for him. Check his music out on YouTube.

Catch Aml Ameen in The Maze Runner in theaters Friday, September 19.

(Photo Credit: Corey Nickols)