Shazad Latif on joining the bold new universe of 'Star Trek: Discovery'
We spoke with the actor about what it's like to play his complex character, Ash Tyler, and avoiding online criticism from die-hard Trekkies.
Trekkies have been freaking out over "Star Trek: Discovery" ever since it premiered last fall. The exciting entry into the classic sci-fi franchise has everything die-hard fans loved about the old series but also, ahem, … appears to boldly go where no Star Trek series has gone before.
Thanks to series creator and showrunner Bryan Fuller, the series compels with the emotional depth of the new crew on Starfleet's U.S.S. Discovery and the richness of the galaxies they explore. And one crew member in particular, Shazad Latif's Ash Tyler, has won fans over in a big way.
Ash is first introduced as a prisoner of war under Klingon control and rescued by Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs). He is then brought back to serve on the Discovery, where he has a steamy on-and-off emotional connection with the ship’s science specialist, Michael Burnam (Sonequa Martin-Green) — before some startling revelations are revealed. Sorry, no spoilers here!
We spoke with British actor about playing such a complex character and being a part of the "Star Trek" universe.
Were you a fan of the "Star Trek" franchise growing up?
My grandfather and uncle were big, big fans! I was aware of it… 6:30 on BBC 2. I was too busy wrestling with my brother at the time. I always loved Spock!
What has the reaction been like with some of the die-hard Trekkies who have been watching "Star Trek: Discovery"?
I really enjoy when I get to meet die-hard fans face to face. I don’t get too involved with anybody online. It’s dangerous to delve into thoughts and opinions on the web.
Your character, Ash Tyler, is so complex. He was introduced as a prisoner of war under Klingon control and has since gone through a horrible time dealing with PTSD and trauma related to his captivity. What was it like diving deep into that mindset in order to play this role?
It’s hard to analyze one’s own performance. It’s an actor’s dream to play a role like this, but you just have to be fully committed and focused in order to do scenes and topics like this justice. You have to give it 100 percent without any fear.
Ash and Michael’s relationship seems like it has been put on hold right as it was heating up. What gives?!?! Do you think there is any hope for them as the season moves on?
There is always hope in life. I think Ash has to retain that hope. He has some groveling to do. He f—ed up.
Lastly, is there any chance of you reviving, one of your other famous characters, Clem Fandango for another season of "Toast of London"?
I would always love to play Clem again! Who knows? Working with Matt Berry, Arthur Matthews, and Tim Donnie was pure joy.
New episodes of "Star Trek: Discovery" are available to stream every Sunday on CBS: All Access.