Although he's probably most recognizable right now for his role in last year's Star Wars installment Rogue One, Riz Ahmed spent 2016 killing it in subtler dramatic performances, too. He starred as shy and anxious Nasir Khan in the super successful HBO miniseries The Night Of, and followed it up with the role of empathetic and benevolent (though possibly villainous) FBI counselor Elias Rahim on Netflix's The OA. Next, he's tackling a more laid-back role on the final season of Lena Dunham's hit HBO comedy, which is super exciting, but who does Riz Ahmed play on Girls? Good news: there's potential for him to be a Hannah love interest!
Thankfully, we won't have to wait long for his guest appearance, since Ahmed's character gets introduced in the season premiere. He plays a chill surf instructor and the production stills from the episode show that he and Hannah get plenty of one-on-one time. (Fingers crossed for one of those infamously cinematic Hannah-only episodes to start shot on Fire Island.) We know from the show's executive producer, Jenni Konner, that this really is the girls' last effort to finally get it together, which, for Hannah, means finding romantic peace, be it single or partnered.
Said Konner in an interview with Entertainment Weekly:
Everything that came before has been leading us to this point. I’ve always said Girls is about them trying to grow up, and this season is no exception. They’re always trying, but this season is — though they don’t know it — the last chance to figure out if they’re really going to stay friends.
She also dropped a big (and metaphorically on point) hint about Ahmed's character, which definitely raises the potential for romantic interest. "Riz is incredible," Konner said. "He’s obviously playing a very different kind of character than The Night Of or Rogue One — a full-on surfer dude who pontificates about the water! He dips in and out of Hannah’s life in an important way."
Of course, it's equally possible that surfer-boy simply enlightens a jittery Hannah to a more balanced way of life, but either way, it'll be cool to see Ahmed playing such a different character than we're used to. (Although he probably taps into some of the same calming vibes for the role that he channeled on The OA.) While I, personally, can neither get through the trailer without tearing up, nor can I have Michael Penn's "Good Girl Down" come on shuffle without ugly-crying on the subway, the otherwise much-anticipated final season premieres on Sunday, Feb. 12. Let's brace ourselves for one last hurrah.