MS. MARVEL Star Farhan Akhtar On Joining The MCU, Playing Mentor To Kamala Khan, DON 3 & More (Exclusive)
While his time with us was short, Farhan Akhtar made a lasting impact as Waleed in the latest episode of Ms. Marvel, and we caught up with the Bollywood star afterward to get all the major details.
Ms. Marvel episode four is now streaming, and after that huge cliffhanger, we were able to sit down with special guest star Farhan Akhtar (Toofaan; Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara), who played Waleed, to talk about his pivotal role in the latest episode as the leader of the Red Daggers and mentor to Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani).
We were also able to ask the acclaimed Bollywood actor/director/writer about joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, bearing witness to the birth of a new generational star in Iman Vellani, working with the Marvel Studios team, and we even got to ask him a question this writer has been wondering about for nearly a decade: When are we going to see Don 3?
Check out the full video interview below!
ROHAN: I just wanted to start out by saying I'm a huge fan and it's an absolute honor to talk to you today.
FARHAN: Thank you so much.
ROHAN: There was an incredible amount of secrecy surrounding your involvement in the series and it wasn't actually confirmed until just a few weeks ago. Can you tell me more about your casting process and joining the MCU?
FARHAN: Well, I mean, my agent reached out to me saying that Marvel has developed this show that’s about this Pakistani girl, Muslim superhero, and it's going to focus on the subcontinent, on the history of the subcontinent, and kind of really tap into the culture and the traditions of this place. So, it sounded really exciting when she told me about it, and then I had a conversation with the creative producers and a conversation with the director, they told me about the character of Waleed, who he is, what he represents in the show, what his journey in the show is, how he helps Kamala along in hers, and it sounded really, really exciting, and it sounded new, it sounded fresh, and I just felt like I had to do it.
ROHAN: Since we've already seen the episode, we can talk about what happened - Waleed dies, which I honestly wasn't expecting. What is it like coming into a project like this where you have a limited time to make this profound impact on this young girl's life before you know your time is up?
FARHAN: Honestly, the thing was just to, I mean, not really think about how the episode is going to end but just really think about what it is that I'm supposed to be doing for Kamala. I think that's the big thing, I mean, more than thinking of it as a mentor. I was really approaching it, since he is from this order of protectors, for him. Kamala is like his daughter, and that's how he looks at it. That's how he wants to help her, he wants to enable her, he wants to empower her, and he wants to liberate her from this load that she's carrying.
So, that's really how I approached it and then, of course, I mean, there were all those scenes, and the affection was most important to me, more than the knowledge. It was important that you feel Waleed’s affection, because the knowledge is, I mean, at the end of the day, it's talk, you know, so what's important is to feel the connection between the two and that was something that kind of really, really was the focus on those things.
ROHAN: You're a veteran and such a legend, and you're getting to work with Iman at the start of her journey in this business. What was your experience working with her?
FARHAN: She's incredibly gifted. She has a great natural ability. The camera loves her, and she's really easy. I mean, if she has nerves, she doesn't show it. She looks like she's having a really fun time. Everyone on the crew absolutely loves her and you can see that she has a special relationship with each and every one and she was great. I mean, honestly, when I went there, I was wondering what it would be like, but like working with her, doing the scenes with her, because we did the action last, it really helped me. When I was reading with her, when we were just sitting and chatting, it really did help me because she made me feel comfortable.
So, it was honestly the other way around. I kept saying to her that even though I’m playing Waleed - *laughs* - when we're not filming, you’re my Waleed. So, that's really what it was and I absolutely loved working with her. I loved working with Aramis as well, who plays the younger Red Dagger, really, really nice guy, cool guy and really good at what he does. So, all in all, it was really - Iman’s got a long career ahead of her. I mean, it's really where she takes it, it's entirely up to her. But I mean, does she have the ability to do whatever she wants to do? I mean, absolutely. She's really good.
ROHAN: You run your own very successful production company, Excel Entertainment... did you have any major takeaways after working with Marvel Studios?
FARHAN: Honestly, I don't know, because I feel like I've been fortunate that I've worked with people who love what they do, and don't treat it as just a job, and that's what I felt when I went onto the Marvel set. Everyone was there, and they were absolutely loving what they were doing, and that, to me, is what really makes for a good crew. You may have the best actors, the best technicians, but if their heart's not there, it's not fun. So, there wasn't really in terms of like, “Oh, was there something that I learned on the technical side of things or the organizational side of things that I could take,” because we do the same things.
Filmmaking now, it's pretty much become the same wherever you go, at least wherever I’ve gone, but I just enjoyed the fact that the scale that it was being done at, and the size of the crew that was working, that there was not one single person that I met, who wasn't having the time of their life making the show. And that was great.
ROHAN: Again, I'm a huge fan of yours, both as an actor and a director, and I've wanted to ask you this for ten years - what's the status on Don 3? Could we see it in the next few years?
FARHAN: It's as secret as what happens to Waleed. *laughs*
Marvel Studios’ “Ms. Marvel” is a new, original series that introduces Kamala Khan, a Muslim American teenager growing up in Jersey City. An avid gamer and a voracious fan-fiction scribe, Kamala is a Super Hero megafan with an oversized imagination—particularly when it comes to Captain Marvel. Yet Kamala feels like she doesn’t fit in at school and sometimes even at home—that is, until she gets superpowers like the heroes she’s always looked up to. Life gets better with superpowers, right?