Inside That Big Star Trek: Discovery Reveal With Star Shazad Latif

Episode 11, “The Wolf Inside,” exposes Lt. Ash Tyler’s horrific secret.

by | January 14, 2018 | Comments

Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Lt. Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif) continued their treacherous mission undercover as alt-universe military muscle under a fascist regime in Sunday’s Star Trek: Discovery episode “The Wolf Inside.”


And then, as actors playing characters playing other versions of those characters, they embarked on an infiltration mission to a rebel stronghold in which Burnham’s real intent was to parley with the rebel leaders and negotiate a plot to foil the Terran leadership, including its emperor (Michelle Yeoh).

In the thick of the action is Latif’s Tyler, who is himself “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, disguised as a harmless dilemma” (to misquote Winston Churchill).

Doug Jones. Mary Wiseman, and Anthony Rapp in Star Trek: Discovery (Ben Mark Holzberg/CBS)

Back on the Discovery, Saru (Doug Jones) and Cadet Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) try to save Lt. Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp), who the crew members fear killed Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz).

Meanwhile, Tyler, the real killer, must confront himself psychologically and, in one tense moment, physically.

You’re forgiven for not recognizing Latif as Voq, Son of None, the Torchbearer. In the season’s earliest episodes, he played the Klingon character under a pseudonym — which itself has a story, Latif told Rotten Tomatoes when we spoke to him about “The Wolf Inside,” Tyler’s demons, and the question of whether the Voq reveal can be trusted.

Shazad Latif in "The Wolf Inside" -- Episode 111 -- STAR TREK: DISCOVERY (Jan Thijs/CBS)

Debbie Day for Rotten Tomatoes: First, I want to say that every time they show the medical procedure flashbacks, I gag just a little bit.

Shazad Latif: Good, good. You know, I don’t know what they used, but they did say it was horrible to film.

RT: It’s pretty terrible, but it’s been wildly successful, I suppose, in terms of gore. Would you mind explaining just what is happening with Lt. Ash Tyler in this episode?

Latif: It’s the real start of him figuring out who he is, what’s happened to him. That’s a big question. I mean, this is it. Everything is coming together now, you know? We’ve got this core thing, the core essence of Voq in this body, which is slowly awakening. He’s been a sleeping giant. And now he’s finally sort of activating, and we’re seeing that play out through this version another human, but just being placed slightly on top. So it’s this complete conflict and inner turmoil of trying to understand that. Hurting people by it coming into play. Hurting the person you’re supposed to love — I mean Burnham — physically and emotionally. Her trying to reconcile that and make her understand, “It wasn’t you.” Pleading insanity. Seeing a mirror version of yourself, but a completely different version, which I have to play a third character even, which is crazy. So there’s just so much going on. Yeah, it’s crazy.

RT: So is there any part of the human who was, I assume, Ash Tyler in there other than the physical exterior?

Latif: Yeah. His memories, his consciousness, everything was transferred over. So he’s basically, in my view, he is Tyler. Tyler is there, he’s just placed on top of this other core being. That’s how I see it. They’re both equally real people. It’s just, they’re gonna fight.

Shazad Latif in "The Wolf Inside" -- Episode 111 -- STAR TREK: DISCOVERY (Jan Thijs/CBS)

RT: So you played Voq in the Klingon makeup.

Latif: Yeah, I played Voq underneath. I used a suit, and I got to choose the name, and so the name “Javid Iqbal,” which comes up in the credits, is actually my father’s name, who passed away about five or six years ago. I used it as a little shout out. He was a big movie buff … So I just thought it would be a very nice thing; I was given the opportunity to choose that, and I did.

RT: So obviously if you played Voq from the beginning and also then playing Lt. Ash, what did you know and when?

Latif: Yeah, I knew everything. We all knew it was going to be a double character. Little things gave it away, plot lines and stuff, but I always knew.

RT: Can you talk about how you approached it as an actor?

Latif: It’s a gift, but it’s a scary gift because you have double the amount of work and you’ve got to create — for one of them, you’ve got to get the voice right, you’ve got to get the Klingon language right, get the Arabic sounding sort of hrrrrh sounds in there, the Spanish rolling R sounds and making sure that’s all good. Lucky I studied Spanish, so that was quite easy. And then you’ve got to do backstory to two characters, but then also at the same time, understanding the turmoil of both characters, really getting to an emotional place where you really have to let go. There are two different styles of acting as well: Tyler is very modern, emotional pain, and the operatic nature of the Klingon and the high sort of classical acting almost — you know, old school — but still put your emotion through the makeup. It’s crazy, but it’s a very beautiful experience. I’ll never forget it. It was long and arduous and hard, but in the end, hopefully people will respond to it.

RT: Can we really take him at his word that he is Voq or is that something we need to wait and see?

Latif: You can take him at his word that he’s Voq, definitely yeah. It’s just more about whether he can convince you that in certain moments he wasn’t Tyler. More that, for me. Yeah, he is definitely Voq.

Star Trek: Discovery - "Despite Yourself" -- Episode 110

RT: You can see where a viewer watching might say, “Well did L’Rell just brainwash him? Does he just think that he is Voq?”

Latif: That’s completely valid. It makes sense. There’s so many different ways it could play out.

RT: But the official word is that we can take him at his word, that he is Voq?

Latif: Yeah.

RT: Maybe I was just in denial because I didn’t want that to be true. This episode gave you so many great moments. Which was your favorite to perform, and, if there’s a difference, which was your favorite to film?

Latif: My favorite to perform has to be the scene with Sonequa, because it was such a culmination of 10, nine months, eight months of building up to that moment where we really have to sort of go for it at each other. And it’s ruined, the relationship changes. It’s irreparable, the damage. And that scene where we’d just did it in like 15-minute takes. It was very long takes, very emotional, and we did it so many different ways: crying eyes, not crying eyes … touching and not touching. Just to perform that as an actor, scenes like that, when it’s long takes — and [director] T.J. [Scott] filmed it very beautifully, and in the dark. That was a very crazy experience, but as an actor it was very exciting.

And the one to film was the fighting yourself. We did two days filming the big rebel scene. That was such an enjoyable scene to film. It felt very much like I was this sort of a tribal leader. Great cast, under these tents. It was a classic sort of movie scene. It was very long. Again, we did long takes. T.J. likes to do long takes, which I love. But fighting yourself, an actor rarely gets to do that, so that was very fun just playing both characters. In one day you’re playing Voq, and the next you’re coming as Tyler. That was very fun.

RT: How does the Terran costume compare to the standard Discovery uniform?

Latif: I think the Terran ones were slightly tighter. They’re all very tight. But brilliant costumes. Gersha Phillips just got nominated for an award. Unbelievable costumes. But they’re all just very tight, so you just have to get in shape. But the Terran ones were slightly tighter, because they had a bit more armor and stuff, so it was a bit more rigid, a bit more like, we used to call it, like, the Janet Jackson videos. Quite similar to that.

RT: Oh, “Rhythm Nation”?

Latif: Yeah, exactly. That was good. You had it straight away.

RT: Now I’m not going to be able to get that song out of my head for the rest of the day —thank you for that. So when Sonequa is taking off the shoulder piece — I don’t know if she was just acting or if it’s really that heavy, but it looked really heavy.

Latif: It is. It’s heavy. Sonequa, she’s strong as hell, but the costume is bigger. She’s not like huge or tall or anything like that. So it is a heavy costume, and I don’t know how much she was putting into it but it looked heavy as well. And the boots are even hard to get off.

RT: Are there any sort of non-spoilery tidbits from the following episode that you can share about Michelle Yeoh’s character returning as the emperor.

Latif: I don’t know. I don’t know how much I can say about her character.

RT: What about Tyler? Is he going to be in prison? Sedated?

Latif: He’s in the brig at the end, but they’re going to have to — there’s a whole love quadruplet and three bodies to sort of resolve. They’ve got missions to do. They’ve got to work together in a close environment while still knowing all this stuff. They’ve got to solve the Culber case. There’s so much to do in the next five episodes. It’s pretty crazy.

RT: My heart was just breaking with the Culber moments. They’re really touching.

Latif: I love that scene with Wilson [from “Despite Yourself”]. He’s one of my favorite people, and it was just so nice because we finally got to do scenes together and then it was suddenly off. We rarely do scenes together, and they were really great scenes, and it was such a shame. It was a really emotional day there for everyone. Killing a character and then leaving. We were really enjoying these scenes, and I thought they were beautifully played. It was nice.

RT: It’s also very scary for the viewer — like, Holy crap! What is happening?

Latif: I liked jumping over the bed and suddenly I’m towering over him. You know, he’s much bigger than me muscle-wise, but it’s just that height difference when coming off the bed was a very scary film moment, you know?

RT: It was such a pivotal moment and amazing to watch you two play off of each other. Really great work.

Latif: Yeah, I was really happy about it.

Star Trek: Discovery streams on Sundays at 8:30 ET/5:30 PT on CBS All Access.

Tag Cloud

Rocky Showtime YA breaking bad war Marathons Logo teaser FXX Mystery comic Toys spanish language Shudder screenings TIFF diversity Women's History Month Anna Paquin Reality Year in Review Crackle Binge Guide docudrama period drama critics Calendar mockumentary Summer toy story miniseries Fantasy spinoff The Walking Dead X-Men green book movies comics boxoffice Stephen King Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt dc sag awards Comics on TV dceu Marvel Studios Amazon Studios best werewolf jamie lee curtis comiccon ESPN Amazon spider-man TV Land American Society of Cinematographers USA justice league franchise Superheroe stoner television award winner renewed TV shows RT History SDCC ghosts cats Warner Bros. HBO Max politics Disney+ Disney Plus Pixar chucky MTV Premiere Dates transformers GIFs Winter TV Winners universal monsters Acorn TV nature Crunchyroll social media Disney CMT Interview Film Turner Tomatazos A&E TV renewals Infographic Family FX on Hulu Freeform Chernobyl Film Festival Television Academy Christmas streaming Academy Awards Sci-Fi child's play singing competition revenge Vudu 2016 Song of Ice and Fire stand-up comedy Nominations Fox News disaster Trailer crime thriller TLC Biopics Heroines criterion game show series foreign Polls and Games animated dark First Reviews Superheroes See It Skip It The Witch MCU richard e. Grant Pet Sematary Chilling Adventures of Sabrina tv talk Spike TCA 2017 HBO DirecTV facebook Cartoon Network Netflix dramedy Western sitcom Lifetime children's TV cancelled television The Arrangement finale 4/20 Walt Disney Pictures SundanceTV Tarantino APB asian-american Opinion Musicals cartoon psycho TCA independent CBS CW Seed Rock sequel Paramount reboot TBS Sneak Peek National Geographic Apple TV Plus Holidays theme song 2015 Action cancelled Discovery Channel Sundance TV Syfy ABC crossover The Purge blockbuster Fall TV Best and Worst science fiction binge 007 TCM ABC Family biography crime drama what to watch Thanksgiving Black Mirror Lionsgate Turner Classic Movies Set visit Food Network hispanic Extras cults cops adventure Hear Us Out christmas movies GoT BBC cancelled TV series VH1 Comic Book doctor who Sundance Now Trivia versus movie Election Sundance Country canceled TV shows Red Carpet Britbox Bravo First Look Character Guide DC Comics BBC America Countdown hist Nat Geo History free movies parents Captain marvel Lifetime Christmas movies VICE San Diego Comic-Con FOX Hallmark mutant E3 police drama TNT Netflix Christmas movies Kids & Family die hard Awards Tubi Amazon Prime 24 frames SXSW Podcast game of thrones Peacock Teen romance USA Network E! Brie Larson crime strong female leads MSNBC blaxploitation aliens rotten movies we love CNN Comedy Central book south america Baby Yoda harry potter political drama Disney streaming service Shondaland spy thriller historical drama Dark Horse Comics TruTV Reality Competition Photos cancelled TV shows Starz Ghostbusters a nightmare on elm street casting Creative Arts Emmys witnail Elton John Tumblr all-time halloween TV psychological thriller Star Wars IFC Films Video Games dogs dragons OWN Masterpiece Comedy Ovation 2020 Hulu BET A24 Horror Schedule Esquire cooking AMC supernatural joker zero dark thirty video GLAAD New York Comic Con space cinemax Writers Guild of America 71st Emmy Awards Martial Arts elevated horror festivals 2017 name the review Pop TV sports 20th Century Fox Pride Month NYCC Black History Month Certified Fresh Mary Poppins Returns FX natural history adaptation talk show Adult Swim concert Arrowverse vampires LGBT CBS All Access Funimation Animation Spring TV WGN Spectrum Originals Mudbound The CW golden globes Music 21st Century Fox zombies reviews PBS Cannes medical drama directors YouTube Premium Quiz Mindy Kaling quibi Star Trek Valentine's Day Pop RT21 Awards Tour comedies Musical Pirates Sony Pictures discovery spain kids Hallmark Christmas movies slashers IFC Ellie Kemper Cosplay Nickelodeon Drama romantic comedy batman serial killer Disney Plus Disney Channel YouTube Columbia Pictures composers Mary Tyler Moore Paramount Network 2018 OneApp YouTube Red Apple TV+ Apple documentary anthology President Trophy Talk canceled Watching Series Universal Emmys TCA Winter 2020 Box Office Rocketman 2019 Emmy Nominations Marvel Holiday Rom-Com latino Oscars indie thriller DGA based on movie true crime El Rey unscripted mission: impossible Classic Film screen actors guild cars Lucasfilm Marvel Television DC streaming service Travel Channel Endgame travel Super Bowl Avengers robots NBC PaleyFest Amazon Prime Video DC Universe 45 scary movies WarnerMedia ITV technology Epix Grammys zombie ratings LGBTQ Mary poppins anime