Interview with Hamza Haq of “Transplant” on NBC by Suzanne 7/12/22
This was my third interview with Hamza, and I look forward to doing more. He is always so nice in our interviews. You should be watching his show, “Transplant,” if you’re not already. It’s an excellent series and won two Gemini awards this past season (The Canadian equivalent to the Emmys). I’m really looking forward to season 3. Don’t miss this week’s exciting cliffhanger! It’s a doozy.
Here’s the transcript of our interview. It’s not completely edited yet, so check back!
Suzanne: How are you today?
Hamza: I’m doing well. How are you?
Suzanne: I’m alright. I’m kind of awake. kind of awake.
Hamza: That’s good. Where are you in the world?
Suzanne: I’m in a little town in southern Arkansas, so I’m in the central time zone and, I just didn’t sleep well last night.
Hamza: So I’ve. And so good hands up if you can’t sleep well.
Suzanne: Yeah, with me, it’s just allergies
Hamza: has their videos off. I know they put their hands up too, so don’t
Suzanne: yeah, that’s right. That’s right. So, oh, I like your necklace.
Hamza: Thank you. It’s prayer beads from the motherland that my mom got for me.
Suzanne: Oh, nice. Nice.
Hamza: so, Africa anyway.
Suzanne: Oh, cool. Cool. So you’re all decked out today.
Hamza: had a photo shoot. Luckily enough. They were just like, Hey, let’s schedule some interviews. I’m like, great. I’ll do so. Let’s do it all at once.
Suzanne: Yeah, no, you look good. so, congratulations on getting a third season in Canada.
Hamza: Thank you. Thank you so much.
Suzanne: I hope that NBC picks it up again too. I have a good feeling about it and my fingers are crossed for you.
Hamza: Thank you. Thank you so much.
Suzanne: And have you shot the third season yet, or started shooting it?
Hamza: We’re shooting it currently. yeah, we’re in, we’re in production. We’re filming episodes eight and nine of, of 13. And, we’re gonna go. Or probably to, towards the end of October.
Suzanne: Wow. Okay, good. Bash has been going through a lot of, PTSD still this season and maybe some survivors guilt based on what we saw. can you speak about that?
Hamza: Yeah, I mean this, you know, this season, you know, last season we focused on his trouble. Concile. the death of his parents and, you know, therapy never ends. So like now he’s, he’s coming to terms with, with, the time he spent in captivity, in, in, in Syria when he was captured by the regime soldiers and, is haunted by the presence of, or the, or the specter of the man who was, locked Alongside him. And, and yeah, like that’s, that was. You know, it was a, a, a story point that was difficult to, to film, to, to attain. But, you know, we’re, we’re so grateful that, that, everybody who lent their voices, to, You know, to tell that story were so generous and, and brave with, with, with everything that happened in there, with all of their experience surrounding, captivity and all of that, you know, hopefully we did justice, the story, the man who plays Omar in the Mo in the, in the show as Ahman Mary, who is, you know, who’s a, you know, he’s, he’s now he was a consultant. he’s from Syria. He fled as well. And. he’s now a, a writer on season three, so we’re, you know, we’re extremely lucky to have him. He’s a tremendously gifted artist and, and just a all around good dude.
Suzanne: Oh, wow. That’s great. That’s great.
Suzanne: And last time you and I spoke, we talked about this possible romance with Mags, and in the second half of the season, you two grow closer and we see how that works out in the last episode. Are you glad that the writers took it very slow?
Hamza: I think, you know, it’s, we, we needed time to, to get to know these people and, and to build their relationship. and, it’s You know, whichever, whichever way it’s gonna go after this season. I think, I think if there wasn’t a little bit of tension or a little bit of anticipation, or, you know, that that’s how that’s really how life works, you know, it, it has to build up like that. They’re both going through such, different things individually that, that, that, you know, the timing worked. As it was meant to. So, I, I don’t, I don’t necessarily think the writers, deliberately took it slow. I just think that this was the natural evolution of, of the characters and it was, you know, him showing up at her doorstep at the end of it, was just, about time.
Suzanne: Right. And, I’m thinking it could be a triangle or more. I think Dr. NOK might be interested in her, judging from the interaction. Little interaction they had. And, I’m thinking maybe RO could return change her mind next season, and then we’ve got a quadrangle. What do you, what do you think about that?
Hamza: We’ll see? that’s all I can say about that.
Suzanne: Well, right. it seems like most of what we’ve seen about your character was about him being a refugee, a brother, and a doctor. Very little about actually being Muslim. Do you think we’ll see more about that?
Hamza: I hope so. I, I, and I don’t think, you know, I don’t think we need to, we need to be seeing him praying all the time or, you know, speaking, you know, speaking the language, like saying aah and Ella and all of these things. I think, you know, the fact that we acknowledge it, that it’s, you know, it’s peripheral in his life and it’s sort of. Everything he does, he’s doing as a Muslim. So I, I, you know, I even beg to differ that, you know, even him being a doctor, him being a brother and him being a refugee, he’s doing all of those things as a Muslim. And, I think it’s important to know that it’s, it’s, it’s a part of everything that he does. just because it’s not on display, all the time. Like even when. You know, even when he’s doing things that aren’t Islamic, you know, like when he’s, you know, hooking up with a social worker and in season one or he’s, you know, saving lives or when he is, you know, all of those things are him doing it as a Muslim. And, you know, so I think, I think that’s a, that’s an important focal point. Just because we’re not seeing it all the time. Doesn’t change the facts that he is, you know?
Suzanne: Right. I forgot about the social worker. Thank you. Now this might seem unrelated, but it’s, it’s kind of got a point. Have you watched any of the show, Ms. Marvel, or are you aware of it?
Hamza: I am aware of it. I’ve seen the, I’ve seen the first episode. and, I know I want to, like, as soon as I watch the first episode, I’m just like, I am tired of waiting a week, so I need to finish watch it. but I’ve seen the first episode. I thought it was terrific. Yeah. Yeah, they do. They do a good job of there.
Suzanne: I, I, you know, I, I only mentioned it since she’s Pakistani and I know. So wanted to make sure you knew about that really great show.
Hamza: Great. Shout, shout out, shout out to, to my boy saga who’s on that show as well. He plays the brother he plays on, on the show, so.
Suzanne: Oh, good.
Suzanne: And is there anything else you can tell us about what might happen in third season? Any, anything at all?
Hamza: You know, we’ll we see, We see a different version of, of, of Bash than, than we’ve seen in, in the past, you know, with this, with this contract that, that Bishop is able to, secure for him. there’s a bit more, confidence and arrogance that he can exude because he’s. Obviously he thinks very highly of himself as a doctor, and considered himself highly capable, but there’s always been this like protocol thing where you can’t prove it or, you know, it’s one more, one wrong move and you’re out kind of thing. And, and I think without that, tension or that pressure that’s being put on him, I think he’s, he’s able to flourish and, and flex his chops more as, as an individual, for better or for worse. So, you know, as far as Bash’s storyline is concerned, I think, I think we’ll see a different version of him, than, than, than what you, what you’ve seen before. Yeah.
Suzanne: I like the way they lightened him up more in the last couple of episodes and made him
Suzanne: Gave him a way to sort of move forward. That was, that was well done. and do you have any other projects that you’ve been doing when you’re not shooting or promoting Transplant that you can tell us about?
Hamza: Yeah. In between season two and, Between season two and, three, I, I did two independent films, so I did my first French Canadian film by director Stephan Lale. It’s a project called Viking. And, and then I did, another feature directed by Kim Albright, starring Adam McGuire. it’s called with love and a major organ. they’re both kind of dark comedies, substantially different from transplant and, yeah, they, they were both a lot of fun and, you know, I’m sure they’re gearing up to do the, the festival circuit or something like that, in the, in the near future. So yeah, keeping an eye in an ear out for those two.
Suzanne: And is the French Canadian one in French or French and English or
Hamza: It’s it’s in, it’s in predominantly French. I speak French in the middle.
Suzanne: I was gonna say, you speak French. That’s great. How many languages do you speak? Quite a few, right?
Hamza: Like three-ish plus minus, you know what I mean? Like Urdu, English, and French. And then, you know, like technically Hindi, like if you wanna say that, like, you know, nobody really speaks Urdo anymore. Nobody really speaks Hindi anymore. We sort of kind of speak this like amalgamated, you know, Bollywood language that is kind of simplest versions of both those languages into one. Hamza: So, so yeah, Yeah. So three-ish, I don’t speak Arabic. Make sure you write that down. I learn it for the show. I can understand if they’re, you know, same root languages, but, but yeah, I don’t, I, I don’t speak that.
Suzanne: Okay. Well, great. I appreciate you talking to me so much today and, of course, hopefully there will be another one in the future. This is our third meeting. We’re like buddies now.
Hamza: Yeah, we’re homies now.
“Transplant” follows the story of Dr. Bashir “Bash” Hamed (Hamza Haq), a talented doctor and Syrian refugee, who fled his war-torn country with his younger sister, Amira (Sirena Gulamgaus), for a fresh start in Canada. After a truck crashes into the restaurant where he’s been working, Bash earns the chance to practice medicine again by using his field-honed skills to save multiple lives in brilliant fashion, including that of Dr. Jed Bishop (John Hannah), the Chief of Emergency Medicine at York Memorial Hospital in Toronto.
But Bash is told he’ll need to redo his residency in Emergency Medicine from the bottom and despite his obvious talents intuition, and training, starting over is not an easy road and his life experience is not a perfect match for the strict protocols at York Memorial. Through perseverance he makes inroads, developing camaraderie with his new colleagues, including the driven Dr. Magalie “Mags” LeBlanc (Laurence Leboeuf), the reserved and ambitious surgical resident Dr. June Curtis (Ayisha Issa), easy-going pediatric ER physician Dr. Theo Hunter (Jim Watson), head nurse Claire Malone (Torri Higginson) and even earning the respect of Dr. Wendy Atwater (Linda E. Smith), the department’s second-in-command who runs a very tight ship.
Jed Bishop (John Hannah), the team’s demanding, inscrutable boss, looms large and keeps everyone on their toes with a unique compassion and commitment to his staff that also connects them.
Season two picks up with Bash and his fellow residents reeling after Dr. Bishop suffers a stroke. With everything at the hospital destabilized, the place that Bash had started to consider home suddenly feels precarious. As the team adjusts to new colleagues while dealing with the challenges of life, unexpected faces from the past leave Bash seriously doubting whether his transplant into this new world was successful.
Bash’s hard work, compassion and hopefulness tell a universal story about the human ability to not only survive, but ultimately thrive when our lives suddenly change course.
Creator Joseph Kay returns as showrunner and executive producer. Director Stefan Pleszczynski joins as executive producer and will direct six episodes. Additional executive producers include Bruno Dubé, Jocelyn Deschênes, Virginia Rankin, Tara Woodbury, Josée Vallée and Adam Barken.
“Transplant” is produced by Sphere Media in association with CTV and Universal International Studios, a division of Universal Studio Group.
Please visit the official show site at: https://www.nbc.com/transplant.
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Hamza Haq stars as Bashir “Bash” Hamed in NBC’s “Transplant,” a trained ER doctor who fled his native Syria to come to Canada. He must overcome numerous obstacles to resume his career in the high-stakes world of emergency medicine.
A Canadian Screen Award winner for Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series (2021), Haq was also honored as one of Canada’s Rising Stars by the Hollywood Reporter in 2017.
In 2018, Haq appeared alongside William Shatner and Russell Peters as twins Amal and Gopal in the CTV miniseries “Indian Detective,” and earned critical acclaim in the CBC drama “This Life,” for which he earned a 2018 Canadian Screen Award nomination for Best Guest Performance. Other notable credits include recurring roles on the Cinemax series “Jett”
opposite Carla Gugino; “Quantico,” starring Priyanka Chopra; and “The Art of More,” with Dennis Quaid and Kate Bosworth.
Additional television credits include “Designated Survivor,” “The Bold Type,” “Being Human” and “Best Laid Plans.” He hosted two seasons of the International Emmy Award-nominated children’s series “Look Kool” and plays Jassie on the CBC Gem digital original drama “The 410.” On the big screen, Haq has appeared in “Bon Cop,” “Bad Cop 2” with Colm Feore, “The Death” and “Life of John F. Donovan” directed by Xavier Dolan, Darren Aronofsky’s “Mother!” and “Run This Town,” detailing the turbulent final year of Rob Ford’s tenure as the mayor of Toronto. He also had a role in “My Salinger Year,” which opened the 70th Berlin International Film Festival in 2020.
Haq is a 2020 recipient of RBC’s Top 25 Canadian Immigrants Award and recently partnered with the Canada Media Fund’s Made | Nous campaign as ambassador to celebrate Islamic History Month. He spoke at the 2021 TEDx Toronto Fall digital event series “Uncharted,” using his public platform to speak on issues important to him, including refugees’ rights, racial
injustice and combating stereotypes, and was honored as Playback’s Breakout Star of the Year.
Raised in Ottawa, Haq is youngest of four siblings born in Saudi Arabia to Pakistani parents and has called Canada home for almost 20 years. He holds a bachelor of arts in film studies with a minor in law from Carleton University.
Hamza Haq of “Transplant” on NBC 10/9/20
Proofread and Edited by Brenda