Originally from Djibouti, East Africa, actor Souleiman Bock, who played Khaalid Mohamoud on the hit British TV series “River,” has definitely gotten our attention with the unique and often brooding look he brings to the screen, but the actor’s appeal on camera extends far beyond his looks alone.
From the dark and menacing to the deeply emotional, Bock’s ability to bring a wide range of characters to life with believability has been a driving factor in the success he’s achieved in the industry over the last few years.
In the crime series “River” created by Primetime Emmy Award winner Abi Morgan (“Suffragette,” “Shame,” “The Iron Lady”), Bock’s character Khaalid is a critical piece in a puzzle that police inspector John River will stop at nothing to solve.
Acting alongside European Film Award winner Stellan Skarsgård (“Thor,” “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “Good Will Hunting”), who plays John River, Bock gives a brilliant performance as a man who vacillates between trying to protect his friends and family, and wanting to help the police bring a murderer to justice.
“He’s an immigrant in the UK who has been working hard to support his family and struggles to find his place in society, he’s central to the story because he’s hiding information in an effort to try and protect someone, a move that could change the course of the story,” explains Bock.
A Somali immigrant and father of three, Khaalid (Bock) works at a local restaurant in London where River believes the man who murdered investigator Jackie Stevenson (Nicola Walker) worked as well. Convinced that Khaalid knows more than he’s saying, River takes him in for questioning. Fearful that what he says may lead him and his family to be deported, Khaalid shakes nervously in the face of the interrogation and lies to the police about what he knows. However, with Jack River on the case the truth is bound to come out, it just may not be the truth the investigator expected after all.
“My character was always on the edge. This is really challenging as an actor. The complexities of the character were so fun to play,” explained Bock. “Acting opposite Stellan Skarsgard, who I considered before I met him on set to be one of the best actors out there, was a really amazing experience. I learned a lot watching him work and grew a lot from it as a result.”
In addition to earning a prestigious BAFTA TV Award nomination, “River” took home the Golden Nymph Award for Best TV Series Drama from the Festival de Television de Monte Carlo earlier this year.
Although Bock was born in Djibouti and speaks Somali fluently, something that was undoubtedly beneficial in his role as Khaalid in “River,” he moved to France with his family when he was 5 years old. His multi-cultural upbringing has proven to be an incredible asset for Bock in his career as he has taken on characters from all over the planet-- and it doesn’t hurt that he also speaks three languages (French, English and Somali). In addition to speaking Somali in “River,” viewers also have an opportunity to catch the actor speaking Arabic in the beginning of the fourth episode, a challenging feat, which he accomplishes with ease.
Knowing his strengths when it comes to using his physical appearance to flawlessly embody certain characters, Bock admits, “I would definitely say that I usually get the intense sometimes menacing type.”
Early on in his career he took on the key role of a terrorist pirate in the dramatic thriller series “MI-5” created by Royal Television Society Award winner David Wolstencroft (“Versailles,” “The Escape Artist,” “Beyond The Gates”). In the series, which revolves around a team of agents in the British security intelligence service, Bock’s character takes a merchant ship and its crew hostage, murdering some along the way.
While the team at MI-5 have their hands full trying to stop him, it’s soon revealed that Bock’s attack on the ship is part of a larger plot, a terrorist attack on the house of parliament. Bock never misses a beat in the action packed series where he acts alongside Richard Armitage (“Captain America: The First Avenger,” “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”) and Ellie Fox (“Jason Bourne,” “Legend”). The BAFTA Award winning series also stars Oscar nominee Peter Firth from the films “Pearl Harbor” and “Amistad,” and Hugh Simon from the films “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” and “Possession.”
As actor Souleiman Bock continues to take on multi-layered roles, captivating us with his performances the whole way through, audiences across the globe can bet on seeing a whole lot more from him for years to come. Up next for the actor is the series “Call the Midwife,” where he plays a seaman in Britain’s Royal Navy, as well as the upcoming series “Riviera.”