TrekMovie had a chance to speak to some of the cast and crew of Star Trek: Discovery at a press event at San Diego Comic-Con, including actor Shazad Latif. Latif was part of one of the big twists in the first season of the series when his character, Lt. Ash Tyler, was ultimately revealed to be the transformed Klingon agent Voq. We talked about keeping the Voq secret, the parody Twitter account it inspired, and what he is up to in season two. (Video of the interview is below the transcript)
Keeping the Voq = Tyler secret with “Javid Iqbal”
[NOTE: In January I told Shazad privately that I created the parody account @RealJavidIqbal on Twitter–more details on this below the interview.]
So, what did you think of “real Javid”? Now, we can reveal it was me all along.
Oh yeah. [laughs] You are technically my father. It is strange to be looking at you.
How did it feel for you to keep the secret (that Voq was Tyler)?
It was the weirdest thing I have ever done. Usually, you go to work and film something and then it goes on TV. This was a whole extra saga going on in my real life that I was unaware of, had never experienced before – social media – it was a very strange thing to be part of. And to use my dead father’s name, he was coming back alive in a sense. The whole thing was weird, but very enjoyable to see play out, actually.
How much do you know about where things are going? With the first season, when you were hired, how much did you know about your arc? And for the second season, is it the same thing?
In the first season I knew what was happening. I knew where it was going to end up. We didn’t know the exact details of each episode because that changes as we go. But, I knew I was a Klingon. I knew the big reveal. This season, we get a certain amount of info. Some people can know what they want, some people can know more, if they want. It’s up to us, in a way. But, we know the basics. We know enough.
Who is Shazad in season two?
So, for the second season, what should we call you? Voq? Tyler? Tyvoq? Voqler?
It is up to each audience member to make their mind up. That is the beauty of it. It’s vague. There is an ambiguity about it, which I love playing as well. He is part of Starfleet, he is part Klingon. It is unclear.
When you say he is part of Starfleet, the last we saw him, we left him on the Klingon homeworld with L’Rell. Is that kind of your zone for the second season?
For a while. But, he is going to have to weave in and out. It is going to play out in an interesting way. Yeah, yeah. He has got to sort some stuff out with the Klingons. He wants to see Burnham again. He wants to see her.
What did you guys call it, the “love rhombus”? [with Voq, L’Rell, Tyler and Burnham]
Whatever shape, there are so many shapes. It’s a square, or a parallelogram.
So, there are still feelings with all parties, with L’Rell, with Burnham?
I would say so. If there are two people, there are two feelings, because it is a four-way thing. Definitely.
Last season there was a lot of Klingon dialog, that went over with varying levels with people. Would you say you are doing more in English or Klingon this year?
I’m not sure.
Well, now that you are on Klingon.
I’m not sure. Sometimes when we read it, there are subtitles. But, I always like the subtitles, because it adds an extra layer. It is like watching a foreign language movie. It keeps you in a different world.
Watch the interview
Who was @realJavidIqbal?
One of the ways the Voq=Tyler secret was kept under wraps was to credit the actor for Voq, actually played by Latif, as “Javid Iqbal.” Latif chose the pseudonym himself and used his late father’s name for it, but nobody else knew that’s where it had come from. To add credibility to the idea that Voq was played by a real actor, an IMDb page was created for Javid Iqbal (which has since been removed). As the Voq=Tyler clues added up and it became clearer that the fan theory about them being one person was the real deal, I decided to have some fun and created the Twitter parody account @realJavidIqbal as a typical celebrity actor account, from the point of view of someone who happened to have a unique look for someone in Hollywood.
— Javid Iqbal (@RealJavidIqbal) October 25, 2017
For a few months, @realJavidIqbal would update his 1542 Twitter followers on his life as a “real actor” and talk about his good friend Shazad Latif. Javid would show up around the world, visiting with various actors and members of the Discovery staff and generally live the life of a celebrity.
— Javid Iqbal (@RealJavidIqbal) October 31, 2017
— Javid Iqbal (@RealJavidIqbal) November 7, 2017
As things went along, cast and crew from the show got in on the joke and would follow and interact with “Real Javid,” including Shazad Latif himself. Once the big reveal was made I told Latif that in honor of his father I would retire the account. He was very gracious about it, and said he thought it was a fun thing.
Following his retirement, the official Star Trek writers’ room account also gave their thanks to the “real actor” for all his work.
— Star Trek Writers (@StarTrekRoom) January 16, 2018
You can see the cast and producers joke about “real Javid” on Twitter in one of their SDCC group interviews below.
More from SDCC
We are almost done with our SDCC coverage. There is one more exclusive Discovery interview coming up from the Discovery press event. You may also want to check out our full panel report and the 8 things we learned from the press conference.
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