Cowboy Calling

Meet the new star of Dallas

Posted: 29.08.12

It was one of the most successful US shows of the 80s and next months see’s its return. Dallas is recognised the world over as the soap, everyone was hooked on. From its glamorous depiction of the wealthy Ewings to its famous cliff hangers like ‘Who Shot Jr?’, the plots were so addictive, it’s not surprising it remains one of the longest lasting primetime dramas in American TV history.
The 2012 version sees the return of some of the most popular characters and a few new faces. Faran Tahir who’s done a few previous stints in Hollywood appearing on series Charmed, Lost and as the evil Raza in Iron Man stars as Cliff Barnes’ driver and right-hand man. Fresh from shooting the series, he reveals what is was like to be part of such an anticipated television show.

Confession time: did you actually watch the original series of Dallas?
Dallas was a phenomenon in its time. I didn't get to watch it regularly but I definitely knew who was who on it. The resurrected Dallas has already proved to be a hit in the US and I hope it has the same impact with the British audiences. What was the first day on the set of Dallas like? We were all in the same boat. We were resurrecting an old classic with the old cast alongside a new generation of Barnes and Ewings. Everyone was nervous yet focused!

Were you given any advice by the original cast?
No. They were all praying that we wouldn’t screw it up! Tell us about your character 'Smiling' Frank Ashkani? Frank is a mysterious man. Definitely not someone you want to mess or cross paths with. His real name is Raheed Durani and he is Cliff’s right hand/driver and designated disposer of dead bodies. Sometimes referred to as ‘Smiling Frank’ but he doesn’t actually smile. Since starring in Dallas, have you felt the urge to shoot JR? For those that have watched the old series will recall JR as a schemer with cut throat tactics. So, of course! But could you imagine the audience being left with another ‘Who shot JR?’ cliff-hanger? 

You've mastered film, television and theatre. What has given you the greatest satisfaction?
I get equal satisfaction from all three. There are stories that need the intimacy of live theatre to have the emotional impact. Then there are other stories that require the expansive canvas of the film screen and the sensitive eye of the camera to give the audience a window into a characters story. I always say that a painter can paint in oil or water-colour or do a pencil sketch. It all depends on what story he or she is trying to tell. It is the same for acting.

How did you feel when you landed a role in Star Trek?
I felt like a 10-year old boy. I have always liked Star Trek. I grew up on Star Trek. It was awesome. I was a big fan of the original series with William Shatner and the Next Generation and respect the philosophy and the message of hope it portrays. You start off with complete awe but very quickly realise that you have a job to do and you better not screw it up! It was challenging and I wanted to show competence, dignity and strength in a short amount of time.

Did you ever in your wildest dreams think you would become Captain of a Federation Starship?
A kid can dream, right? Sometimes even your wildest dreams can come true and the first time I walked on the set and saw the ship I was like, ‘wow, I’m captain of a federation ship!’

How did the role of Raza in Iron Man come about?
It wasn’t easy! It involved a lot of readings with the casting director, the director and Robert Downey Jr. It also involved meetings with all the producers, a process which took almost three weeks.

What was your favourite scene in Iron Man?
I would most probably say, when I first encounter Tony Stark in the cave. I play the evil sadistic character of Raza, where it involves me or should I say Raza, putting a piece of burning coal in someone’s mouth!

How did it feel getting beaten up by Iron Man?
Legendary. Growing up reading Marvel comics, never in my life did I imagine, that one day I would actually be getting beaten by Iron Man on the big screen. 

Is it now easier for Asian actors in Hollywood or do you still get offered stereotypical roles?
There will always be stereotypical roles but I think that things are slowly changing. Hollywood is a tough place and not for everyone. Egos can be fragile and the business is tough. People with glass chins won’t survive. You need to be able to take a few punches and still be able to get back up.

What else can we look forward to seeing you in?
I have some interesting stuff coming out in the next year. Elysium, a sci-fi thriller with Matt Damon and Jodie Foster directed by the director of District 9, Jinn, a supernatural thriller and Torn, a drama about two families dealing with the untimely death of their teenage sons in a shopping mall explosion. Then there’s The Tomb, a prison break action movie with Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger…as long as the roles keep coming, I’ll be taking them!

The new series of Dallas starts on Channel 5 on 5th September at 9pm.

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