×
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

  • Voltage Pictures to Produce Airborne Thriller

    Voltage Pictures to Produce Airborne Thriller 'Blackwing' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Voltage Pictures will produce and fully finance screenwriter David Loughery’s latest thriller “Blackwing,” Variety has learned exclusively. The company will introduce “Blackwing” to buyers at the upcoming European Film Market at the Berlin Film Festival, which opens Feb. 7. Nicolas Chartier and Dominic Rustam are producing, and Jonathan Deckter is executive producing for Voltage Pictures. [...]

  • ‘Metro Exodus’ Opens Up Post-Apocalyptic Russia

    ‘Metro Exodus’ Author On Film, Possible TV Series, Expansive New Game

    Since the launch of the post-apocalyptic survival first-person shooter “Metro 2033” in 2010, the series has kept its action confined to the tunnels running underneath Russia. “Metro Exodus,” due out next month, takes the gameplay to the surface for the first time, going above ground with sprawling levels against a changing backdrop of weather conditions [...]

  • Berlin Film 'The Ground Beneath My

    Berlin Competition Film 'The Ground Beneath My Feet' Sold to Germany's Salzgeber (EXCLUSIVE)

    Salzgeber has acquired the German rights for Berlin Film Festival competition title “The Ground Beneath My Feet” from sales agent Picture Tree International. Variety has been given exclusive access to the film’s trailer. Salzgeber will release the film, directed by Marie Kreutzer, mid-May. Picture Tree describes the movie as a “contemporary female-led drama touching on [...]

  • Donald Glover'Atlanta' TV show premiere, Arrivals,

    Childish Gambino Surprises Beverly Hills Crowd With Reimagined 'Redbone'

    Donald Glover made an unexpected appearance at Film Independent’s “An Evening With…” series tonight (Jan. 15), held at the Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts in Beverly Hills and presented by the HFPA. Joining “Black Panther” composer and Childish Gambino collaborator Ludwig Göransson, who was the subject of a Q&A conducted by “The Treatment” host Elvis [...]

  • 76th ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS --

    Film News Roundup: Glenn Close Selected for Oscar Wilde Award

    In today’s film news roundup, Glenn Close gets an honor, AFI names its Directing Workshop for Women participants and Teri Polo gets cast in a Christmas drama. CLOSE HONOR Glenn Close will be honored on Feb. 21 by the US-Ireland Alliance at the 14th Annual Oscar Wilde Awards, held at J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot in [...]

  • Jason Reitman Ghostbusters

    Jason Reitman to Direct Secret 'Ghostbusters' Movie

    Sony Pictures is getting the wheels in motion for the next installment in the “Ghostbusters” franchise, and it knows who it’s going to call to direct: Jason Reitman. Sources tell Variety that Reitman, whose father, Ivan, directed the first two “Ghostbusters” movies, will direct the latest pic in the famous franchise. Reitman has also co-written a [...]

  • L.A. Teachers' Strike: Hollywood Studios, Unions

    Hollywood Studios, Unions Support Parents and Educators as L.A. Teachers' Strike Rages

    Hollywood unions and entertainment companies have stepped up to support the 31,000 Los Angeles teachers in the second day of a massive strike that’s affected nearly half a million students. More than 50 SAG-AFTRA members picketed at a Tuesday afternoon rally in the driving rain next to the Hollywood & Highland Center with secretary-treasurer Jane [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content