×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Shazad Latif on the Voyage From ‘Star Trek’ to the World of Online Jihadism

Back from his maiden voyage as Starfleet officer Ash Tyler on “Star Trek: Discovery,” British actor Shazad Latif has boldly gone into the strange new world of online jihadist recruitment in Timur Bekmambetov’s “Profile.”

The film, which screens in the Berlinale’s Panorama section, is based on French journalist Anna Erelle’s book “In the Skin of a Jihadist,” about her investigation into the recruitment of young women by Isis. It chronicles the online relationship between a British reporter, played by Valene Kane, and Latif’s character, a charismatic Londoner-turned-terrorist in Syria.

“Profile” is the latest in a growing number of “screenshare films” that Bekmambetov has championed, including this year’s thriller “Search,” which present vérité storytelling set entirely on the screens of digital devices.

For Latif, it was an opportunity to work with Bekmambetov, whom he describes as “visionary” and “very good at creating mini-genres.” It was also a chance to explore a “very weird love story” and the world of the internet and social media.

“When the journalist goes online, she’s suddenly in this world, and it’s very real,” Latif said. “The same for the jihadi. They fall in love, but they’re both conning each other at the same time. When they’re back in their real lives it’s suddenly turned off.

“That was what was very interesting to play. It was like a two-hander…and for an actor, that’s a dream.”

The film also examines how young women can fall prey to terrorists they perceive to be cool and attractive warrior-fighters. “There’s something seductive about my character,” Latif said, comparing his charismatic jihadist to Marlon Brando’s Stanley Kowalski in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” “You end up liking bits of this guy. Then you realize in the end he’s a horrible murderer and snap out of it.”

Another selling point for Latif was the verbatim script taken from Erelle’s actual Skype conversations with the jihadi.

But Latif, a London native who is part Pakistani, was initially apprehensive about the project. “I don’t want to play random terrorists. Of course I don’t want to be typecast,” he said. “The only reason I did it is because we spoke to Timur about it and the fact that I could see what these conversations were. For me it was about this relationship between those two people.”

Latif’s credits include hipster Clem Fandango in “Toast of London,” Dr. Jekyll in Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful” and an appearance in “The Commuter,” with Liam Neeson. He’s on tap to return for the second season of “Star Trek: Discovery,” the hit series that has brought more opportunities, such as “Profile,” his way. “I can only be grateful for that,” he said.

More Film

  • Murder Mystery

    Netflix Reveals Record-Breaking Stats for Sandler-Aniston 'Murder Mystery' Flick

    “Murder Mystery,” the latest Adam Sandler film to debut on Netflix, broke viewing records on the streaming service, the company revealed Tuesday. The film, which is co-headlined by Jennifer Aniston, was seen by close to 30.9 million households in its first 3 days, according to a tweet sent out Tuesday afternoon. 🚨ADAM SANDLER AND JENNIFER [...]

  • Agents Accuse Writers Guild of Refusing

    Writers Guild 'Plans to Respond' to Agents' Proposal as Frustration Mounts

    In a sign of increasing frustration, Hollywood agents have accused the Writers Guild of America of foot-dragging in the bitter two-month dispute. “It has become clear as more days pass that the Guild is not interested in making a deal,” said the negotiating committee for the agents in statement issued Tuesday. “Over the past year, [...]

  • Jermaine Fowler arrives at the 69th

    Jermaine Fowler to Co-Star With Eddie Murphy in 'Coming 2 America' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Jermaine Fowler is set to play one of the leads opposite Eddie Murphy in Paramount’s sequel “Coming 2 America,” sources tell Variety. “Hustle & Flow” helmer Craig Brewer is on board to direct the pic with the studio planning an August 7, 2020 release. Plot details of “Coming 2 America” are unknown, as are the [...]

  • Henry Golding attends the Fragrance Foundation

    Henry Golding Starts Long House Shingle With 'Inheritance,' 'Harrington's Greatest Hits'

    “Crazy Rich Asians” star Henry Golding has started Long House Productions in partnership with China’s Starlight Cultural Entertainment Group with two features in the works. Golding’s first feature under the Long House banner is action adventure “The Inheritance,” based on an original story idea by Alistair Hudson and Golding. Hudson is writing the script for [...]

  • Max Landis Entertainment Weekly party, Comic-Con

    Max Landis Accused of Rape, Assault and Psychological Abuse

    Screenwriter Max Landis is facing allegations of sexual abuse and psychological manipulation from eight women who told their stories to the Daily Beast. Two of the women spoke on the record, and another five were identified by pseudonyms. An eighth women confirmed that she filed a police complaint against Landis in 2008, in which she [...]

  • Michael Fassbender'X-Men: Dark Phoenix' film premiere,

    Michael Fassbender to Produce, Star in Lionsgate Spy Thriller 'Malko'

    Michael Fassbender will produce and star in the Lionsgate spy thriller “Malko,” based on Gerard de Villiers’ S.A.S. series, with the studio planning to launch a franchise with the project. Eric Warren Singer, who was nominated for an Academy Award for best original screenplay for “American Hustle,” will write the screenplay. Joe Drake, chairman of [...]

  • American Film Institute Hires Susan Ruskin

    Susan Ruskin Appointed AFI Conservatory Dean

    The American Film Institute has named producer and educator Susan Ruskin as dean of the AFI Conservatory, where she will lead AFI’s graduate film-training program. Ruskin, who will also carry the title of executive VP, will report directly to Bob Gazzale, AFI President and CEO, the organization announced Tuesday. She replaces producer Richard Gladstein, who left [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content