From Kumail Nanjiani to Iqbal Theba, a lot of Pakistanis are making the country proud in Hollywood. But if you are talking about the biggest Pakistani name in the world’s capital of films and TV, it has to be Faran Tahir.
With a Hollywood career spanning over 25 years, Faran has starred in blockbusters like Star Trek, Iron Man, Charlie Wilson’s War, and Escape Plan. He has also starred in multiple hit TV serials like The Practice, Family Law, The Agency, NYPD Blue, Lost, and The Blacklist.
Born in Los Angeles, California in 1964 where his parents (Naeem Tahir and Yasmeen Tahir) were studying acting and theatre at the University of California, Faran grew up in Lahore but returned to the US in 1980 and started his career in acting soon after graduating from Harvard. A hardcore theatre enthusiast, Faran is in Pakistan these days for a play, Bhai Bhai, that his brother, Ali Tahir, is directing and also starring in.
I first approached him as a college student back in 2011 when I was working on a project by the US Consulate, Lahore to highlight successful Pakistani Americans. Fan of his craft and modesty since then, I am glad we stayed in touch over the years and grateful to him for taking out the time from his excruciatingly busy schedule to answer these 36 fun questions candidly.
- Who has significantly influenced you while growing up?
My biggest inspirations were my own parents and grandparents who dedicated their lives to performing arts in Pakistan.
- What do you like doing in your spare time?
I love to read, run, cook, and spend time with my family.
- What’s the most interesting thing you’ve experienced recently?
I just did the longest virtual reality project to date in the world. We did HAMLET as a virtual reality experience.
- What is your favorite sport?
Boxing, cricket, soccer.
- Which is your favourite movie?
OMG! So many. Love old movies…Taxi Driver, Scarface, My Favorite Year. The list goes on and on.
- Who is your favorite actor, and why?
I love Meryl Streep. Consummate actress. You can throw any genre, any medium, any character, and she shines.
- What is your secret superpower?
I can boil an egg.
- What would be a good theme song for your life?
Hahahaha! I guess…..HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT….FIRE AWAY!!!
- Which fictional character would be the most exciting to meet in real life?
- What is the worst purchase you’ve ever made?
My Roomba vacuum. I always trip over the damn thing at the worst times.
- A book you cannot live without?
The Fall by Albert Camus.
- What are some things that sound like compliments but are actually insults?
I saw you on stage/screen. You were really there. Ummm….AND????
- What’s your biggest screw up as a dad so far?
Adding salt to my broiled salmon with raspberry chipotle sauce. Don’t do it! Your kids will never let you forget it.
- Where did you grow up?
Mentally, I never grew up but chronologically I grew up in Pakistan, England, and the USA.
- What were your best/worst subjects in school?
Loved languages and physics. Hated Chemistry and Biology.
- What were you like as a kid?
- How were your parents like while you were a kid?
- What’s your most favourite childhood memory?
My grandfather used to read me all the children’s classics every afternoon after lunch.
- Who inspired you to get into acting?
Definitely my parents. Also people like Qavi Khan. People who indefatigable strive to keep improving in their craft.
- How would you describe your acting?
I hope good?
- Who would you like to work with in the next two years?
- Have you ever dealt with performance/acting anxiety?
Not really. I always think that the energy that I might expend in anxiety can be channeled into my preparation for the performance.
- What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen this week?
I met a man in Karachi who unfortunately has polio but he retrofitted a rickshaw so he can drive it. What an inspiration. Proves that we are all differently abled but nothing should hold us back.
- What would you like remembered about you?
That I strove to deal with my failures with bravery and grace and my successes with humility and grace.
- What is the one message you would give to your fans?
Always follow your dreams but never shy away from the hardwork to turn those dreams into reality.
- A comment about the existing media trends and progress in Pakistan.
I am very excited that we are now exploring different genres, issues, themes. Although we might be at a nascent stage, but we are taking risks.
- What attracted you to begin your career as an actor?
You find empathy when you walk in someone else’s shoes for a while.
- How hard it was for you to get into Hollywood? Did your ethnicity/background create any hurdles for you?
It wasn’t easy but every stumble, every setback was always fuel to my fire. I don’t get discouraged I get defiant
- What has been your greatest accomplishment as an actor?
That I make my living doing what I truly love.
- Of all the roles you have played in the past, which is your favorite?
I always say that it should always be that last role you did. You must always put your 110% in your work. Whether it is a success or not you must give it all you have got.
- Have you progressed in your acting career as you have expected?
I am blessed that I have been able to keep my film, television and theatre alive simultaneously.
- Which social media app you absolutely hate using?
All of them. I am so bad at marketing myself. I know in this day in age it’s a great way to connect with people but I always rely on people to come join me. I just can’t focus on trying to collect people for the sake of numbers. I do love when people join me on social media because I do love talking to people so come friends join me and let’s have fun together.
- Describe living in USA in one word.
- What’s the downside of being a celebrity?
I am a very private person.
- Recipe for success?
Focus, conviction honesty and hard work.
- What is the one message you would give to the young people in any field of life?
Always do what you are passionate about. It’s the only way you will excel in the field.
As earlier mentioned, both the Tahir brothers are currently involved with the theatre play Bhai Bhai, which will be running in Karachi Arts Council till 10th February 2019.
About the Author: Hafsa is a freelance writer and designer based out of Los Angeles. She writes about technology, startups, fashion, entertainment, and doesn’t shy away from voicing her opinion about social causes. You just cannot put her in one box 🙂 Follow her for more interesting stories here.