Shazad Latif on Lily James, Toronto “What’s Love Got to Do With It”

If you’ve seen British satire Toast of London, the narrator’s name, Clem Fandango, is probably still ringing in your ears. Now Shazad Latif, the man behind Fandango, Ash Tyler on Star Trek: Discovery and Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde landed his first romantic lead in Penny Dreadful in What’s Love Got to Do With It?

The Shekhar Kapur-led acquisition title, which has a gala world premiere in Toronto on Sept. 10, “has a little more depth than a regular rom-com because it deals with arranged marriages,” Latif said. Lily James plays his character’s childhood friend, and complications arise when she decides to make a documentary about the wedding.

“Lily is one of my closest friends,” Latif said. “She’s like a sister to me.” They met while she was in a play with his old roommate and starred in the 2021 BBC mini-series The Pursuit of Love. “I read [“What’s Love”] a while ago, then it disappeared, then all of a sudden it started being made because Lily wanted to join in. I keep telling Lily that I now owe her my entire career for doing a movie with me,” he laughed.

This is a defining moment for Latif, who will soon be starring as Captain Nemo in Nautilus, the Disney+ series that tells the origin story of the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea hero. He’s about two-thirds of the eleven months of shooting in Australia behind him. “Every day a new set is built that you never expected,” he said. “It’s a wild, wild job.”

Latif’s Pakistani immigrant father switched film roles in the cinema and his Anglo-Scottish mother’s film obsession rubbed off on him. “I remember putting my tights on in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ when I was eight years old,” recalled the London native. “I knew it was a way out of my circumstances. My mother was a single parent and we were very, very poor. It gave me a drive, and since I didn’t really have any other options, it meant I couldn’t fail.”

Latif joined Bristol Old Vic Theater School about a year before support for low-income students dried up. He left a year early when he landed a role on BBC One spy drama Spooks in 2009. “I thought that would be it, but then I just had to keep trying to break through.” In 2015, he had his first big screen roles in The Man Who Knew Infinity and The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, then a bigger role in the little-seen 2018 ISIS drama Profile.

After experiencing these ups and downs, “I want to create my own work,” he said. “I’m working on four or five writing projects. Some autobiographical, intense family drama, and then there’s absurd comedy in other things I’m writing with friends — a movie, a 10-part series. It only took me 15 years to get started,” he laughed. “But it’s happening now.”

https://variety.com/2022/film/actors/shazad-latif-lily-james-1235365593/ Shazad Latif on Lily James, Toronto “What’s Love Got to Do With It”

Charles Jones

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