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Shazad Latif: Head in the Stars

October 9, 2017

Film + Entertainment | by Jeff Conway


If you don’t know him by name quite yet, you have most likely at least seen actor Shazad Latif’s face before. Following several substantial roles on various television series, Latif is now going above and beyond as Lieutenant Ash Tyler on Star Trek: Discovery. With his London roots and an impressively strong CV under his belt, Latif is ready to save the day and prove to everyone that his latest television adventure is truly “out of this world.”

Shazad Latif Candid Magazine
Shazad Latif, photographed by Leigh Keily

In your opinion, what is it about your character Lieutenant Tyler that makes him stand out?

The fact that he is not two-dimensional. We really explore every aspect of this character. He’s not just the male action hero. We see his vulnerability and for me that is the most interesting thing to show, especially in this day and age – a vulnerable man who is willing to share his feelings and emotions; or is forced to.

You were originally cast to play one of the Klingons in this series. How did your character change come about?

After I was cast as KOL, one of the producers said to me “do you want to try out for the part of Tyler”, as they hadn’t cast it yet. I tried for it and it just worked out, it was such an amazing part.

Do you feel a bit of pressure to do justice with this new series for the longtime Star Trek fans?

I just hope long-time fans watch with an open mind and open heart and jump in head first to a new experience. I am sure they will love it. I have given a hundred per cent of my soul to playing the part, so think justice has been done.

Shazad Latif Candid Magazine
Shazad Latif, photographed by Leigh Keily

You were born in London and have worked on several London-set television series including Penny Dreadful and Toast of London. Can you tell me a bit about your acting career up to this point?

I seem to have had a very varied career so far in terms of comedy and serious drama which is great, but this is mainly due to happy accidents rather than me planning anything. Hopefully I’ll get to that point soon where I can pick and choose. I have been lucky enough to film in some wonderful places – many times in London – my home town, India, Dublin, Toronto and many others. It’s a lovely perk of the job.

For the person out there who has never been a Star Trek fan, why should they give this new series a chance?

This is not just a Sci-Fi show. This is a drama full of complex characters who are rich and deep with great storylines. There is something for everyone. Just kick back on the sofa or bed and enjoy.

After decades of consistent success, why do you think the Star Trek series continues to stand the test of time?

It has always been a show of firsts and breaking new ground, which I feel we have done again. It is a show which explores the human condition in a high-stakes environment but retains a truth while doing it. That is hard to do. It has comedy and action as well.

Shazad Latif Candid Magazine
Shazad Latif, photographed by Leigh Keily

Star Trek: Discovery is available on CBS All Access, which is a new streaming service. What do you think are the advantages for viewers to use these types of popular streaming services, over the usual television programming?

I suppose it’s the choice of when to watch. It’s always nice to have that thing of trying to make it home from football in time to not miss a show that was on television. But we adapt with the times and now you don’t have to miss footy training, you can have it ready for you whenever you want at home.

There have surely been and will be more red carpet events to promote your new series. What is Shazad’s go-to fashion look? Are you a suit guy or do you prefer to go more casual?

I’m usually a casual guy. I like trackies and a vest. I like to feel agile like a cat, like Bruce Lee’s suit in Game Of Death. Maybe a colourful shirt. I like bright colours in summer, but usually topless in summer. Then pastels in autumn and winter. Don’t get me wrong; I scrub up well and like a suit, but not everyday. I need to breathe.

Can you tell us one interesting fact about you that people would be intrigued to learn?

I come alive when I’m in the forest or sea.

Star Trek: Discovery airs on CBS All Access in the US and Netflix in the UK.

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