Faran Tahir may not be a household name, but he’s got a face you’ve seen dozens of times on your home theater screens. With roles in films by Marvel Studios, the Star Trek universe and most recently the techy Fight Club inspired sci-fi film, Mad Genius (which I reviewed here) he’s got an undeniable screen presence that’s in demand. So let’s find out how this versatile character actor manages to play hero and villain alike in our Faran Tahir interview.
Adam Pope: You can currently be seen playing Eden in the sci-fi film, Mad Genius. Was there a particular element of the script or character that you found appealing?
Faran Tahir: I was really intrigued by the character and although one can see him as the antagonist of the story, his argument is powerful. He wants to reset life because of all the bad that we have brought into this world. Compared to the protagonist of the story who wants to map, control and shape the mind. So I wonder who is right?
AP: As Eden you are decked out in some Tony Stark like tech during the film. Was that something you and the crew discussed on set?
Faran Tahir: Not really but it is an unintentional backhanded homage 🙂
AP: Speaking of Tony Stark, you appeared on many film fan’s radars as the menacing, Raza, leader of the villainous Twelve Rings organization in 2008’s Iron Man. What was your favorite experience from that production?
Faran Tahir: The entire experience was tremendous. There was such positive energy on that set that you couldn’t help but embrace it.
AP: Many people assumed that you would be revealed as The Mandarin in a later Iron Man sequel. To your knowledge was your character ever headed in that direction during some stage of development?
Faran Tahir: Yes, I think that was the original intention.
AP: Just one year later you were playing a heroic Starfleet captain with another Avenger, Chris Hemsworth, in the exciting opening to J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek. Was it a relief as an actor to know that you were not automatically pigeon-holed into villain roles?
Faran Tahir: Absolutely. Plus every time I think I am in danger of being pigeon-holed it is my responsibility to avoid it.
AP: I have friends of Iranian descent who are working actors in Hollywood that have managed to move beyond the pitfall of only being cast as terrorists due to their ethnicity, landing roles in films like The Hunger Games and even becoming a cast member on Saturday Night Live. Did you run into any issues of being typecast early in your career due to your ethnic heritage?
Faran Tahir: Of course I did. But as I said I have to be the steward of my own body of work. So I try to bring as much variety. It is also why I try to keep a footing in film, TV, and theatre.
AP: Is there are any advice you would give to young actors looking to have as diverse a career as yourself as they enter the world of film?
Faran Tahir: My advice is always to stay true to yourself. Don’t take jobs that make it difficult for you to face yourself in the mirror. At the same time don’t worry about failure but never accept defeat.
AP: Your family has a performance background in Pakistan and India, how did their careers guide you into the world of becoming a professional actor? Was it always your chosen career path?
Faran Tahir: I am blessed that performing arts have always been part of my life. There was never any expectation or pressure to go into performing arts. I did it because it spoke to my heart.
AP: It seems that you are mainly known for your dramatic work, but is there a particular comedic role on your resume you think audiences should discover? Is that a style of acting you enjoy?
Faran Tahir: It does seem that in film and TV I end up doing dramatic roles although I have done quite a bit of comedy on stage.
AP: You have worked regularly in science fiction and fantasy with roles in shows like Once Upon A Time, 12 Monkeys, Warehouse 13, as well as the aforementioned Star Trek and Marvel films. Do you have a geeky obsession with any of these genres or is there another type of entertainment you prefer?
Faran Tahir: I admit it….I am a bit of a geek 🙂 There is a little boy in me who is well and alive. But at the same time my obsession is with telling good stories no matter what genre.
AP: Returning to your role in Mad Genius, if you could reprogram the human brain like the main character in Mad Genius is setting out to do, what traits would you enhance or diminish?
Faran Tahir: I would enhance empathy and diminish apathy.
Our thanks to Faran Tahir for his time in answering these questions about his impressive career. Mad Genius is currently available on VOD from Film Mode Entertainment.