Sunday, November 22, 2009

Faran Tahir on His 10 Minutes as Captain Robau in J.J. Abrams Star Trek Movie

Faran Tahir may not be a household name yet, but the prolific actor can claim the title of Only Actor to Appear in a Top 5 Highest Grossing Film for both 2008 and 2009. As Raza, the leader of the Ten Rings, in 'Iron Man,' the Los Angeles-via-Pakistan actor was the thorn in Robert Downey Jr.'s side (and might be again if rumored plans to include Tahir in a sequel come to fruition.) Switching sides, Tahir played the heroic Captain Robau in J.J. Abram's reboot of 'Star Trek,' in a brief, yet memorable, performance.

When he's not starring in blockbusters, Tahir can be found guest starring on seemingly every television show, including 'Lost,' 'Alias,' '24,' and most recently as Isaac on 'Grey's Anatomy.' Having just wrapped up shooting for the independent drama 'Ashes,' which sees the actor cast as a man struggling with mental illness, the versatile theatre veteran talked with us about playing terrorists, why J.J. Abrams wants him dead, and the lengths studios will go to keep a secret.

Your character is killed pretty quickly in 'Star Trek.' Were you disappointed you didn't get more screen time?
I grew up with 'Star Trek,' so to get to do anything in it was fun for me. You have to look at what impact your character is going to have on the story. My thinking was that because it sets the mood for the entire saga, it was worth doing and was going to have an impact. So it's 10 minutes, but it's a good 10 minutes [laughs].

Did you lobby for more time?
[Director] J.J. [Abrams] and I keep joking about that. I've done four things for him and every single thing I do for him, I die. It's like, "What the heck is your problem? Do you just not want me on Earth?" His last e-mail to me was, "I promise you the next time, you are not going to beepin' die."

When you were a kid, was it your dream to be in a 'Star Trek' movie?
Yeah, I think every kid who watched 'Star Trek' had that dream. It was such a feast for your imagination. You can identify with it on both your geeky and intellectual level. I got on the bridge [on set] and the first seven minutes, I was in awe. It was like, "This is my ship!" [Laughs] You have to learn to settle down and get to work.

How conscious were the cast and crew of balancing the expectations of hardcore fans with the casual moviegoer?
J.J. had an uphill task: He knew the Trekkies would judge it by a certain standard. But there hasn't been a 'Star Trek' movie or television series in years, so there's a generation that hasn't grown up with it. It was about, how do we hook them in? J.J. wanted them to be able to own the saga for their own and not what their older brother or father had told them.

With two high-profile movies, how tight was security on the sets?
On both movies, because they didn't want it to get leaked out, the security was unbelievable. We would jump out of these trailers and into these golf carts which had thick curtains. They would drive us into the studio, close the gate and that's when you were allowed to come out of the cart. When we did 'Iron Man,' they would put a cloak over our heads and hold our hand to walk from the trailer to the studio because paparazzi had rented out all the houses up on the hill and had zoom lenses. They could have taken me to a cliff and told me to jump off and I wouldn't have known that it was there.