Humayun Saeed Breaks Silence Over ‘The Crown’ As Season 5 Nears Release

Pakistani Entertainment Industry has only a handful of superstars. There are a few known names that have the ability to get people to watch whatever they star in. One such name is Humayun Saeed. 

Working in the industry for over 25 years, Humayun has quite the resume, most recently coming hot off his blockbuster Eid flick ‘London Nahi Jaunga.’ The award-winning actor has had success on both the big and small screen, also working in Bollywood. 

The actor is now set to make his Hollywood debut in the coveted 5th season of the Netflix Orginal ‘The Crown’. The news had been percolating for the past few months, Humayun kept his silence until now. He finally sat down with Dawn’s Maliha Rehman and talked about Netflix’s award-winning juggernaut.

Casting Process

When asked about the casting process, Humayun said the following:

“It started with a call from Hamid Hussain, who is now my talent agent. He used to manage Bollywood star Nargis Fakhri, and I was in touch with him earlier to cast Nargis in my film. We had remained in touch since then.”

He added: “One evening, I got a call from him, and he informed me that there was a really important international project that he had in mind for me, but I would need to send an audition for it. I only remember auditioning for the first few projects at the start of my career, but I know this is a norm in the West and agreed to it.”

So, he sent the audition in and soon after he was asked to do an online reading with Elizabeth Debicki, who will be playing Princess Diana in the latest season. After ten days of waiting, the role of Dr. Hasnat Khan was his.

Playing Dr. Hasnat Khan

The Crown’ follows the lives of the British Royal Family and Season 5 sees us in the 1990s nearing the end of Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s marriage. Enter Dr. Hasnat Ahmad Khan, played by Humayun Saeed, a British-Pakistani lung and heart surgeon who is most well-known for his romantic relationship with Princess Diana from 1995 to 1997, referred by her as “Mr. Wonderful”.

We just got a first glimpse of his character where he looks barely recognizable. Attention to detail in a show like ‘The Crown’ of course is incredible and it’s the same for Humayun’s look. 

When asked about his research and prep work before stepping into the role, he had this to say:

“Before filming began, I got to do a workshop with a real surgeon in the UK to understand how a surgeon would behave and react on the job. Of course, I knew about Dr Hasnat Khan even before I got this role. After my casting was confirmed, the team shared research material with me on the doctor. It included a few interviews, as well as, some images.

“Dr Hasnat Khan is a very private person, which was why he and Princess Diana broke up — he couldn’t handle being in the limelight. Due to this, there is very limited material on him available in the public domain. So, I had to study whatever was shared with me in detail.”

Humayun, for most of his career, is seen playing the hero, so when asked about his transformation into a down-to-earth not very fashionable doctor, he had this to say:  

“I would sometimes try to push up my hair right before a scene,” he laughs, “but the stylists on set would immediately notice and they would put my hair back in place. When I saw myself on screen for the first time, I was completely taken aback! I didn’tlook like Humayun Saeed at all, but like the doctor.

“On a serious note, the makers of ‘The Crown’ are extremely particular about details and the look that they had created for the doctor had to be followed to the tee. It was very impressive seeing firsthand how they looked into every tiny nuance.”

Humayun also talked about how he could let his diet go for a change, seeing as how he’s often playing the hero which requires strict regimental diets. 

Humayun’s On-set Experience

When asked if the experience was ever intimidating, Humayun was quite confident and said

“More than being intimidated, I feel that this show puts extra responsibility on anyone who is part of it,” he mused. “People naturally have strong feelings about characters in the show, and memories of the events that we are depicting. Also, some of the people we are representing are alive or have family members who are still alive and that means all of us who are part of this show have to take the responsibility of our roles seriously.”

He also lauded the screenwriter Peter Morgan for handling each character’s portrayal sensitively, calling it the show’s biggest highlight.

Speaking about the energy on set, Humayun revealed that most of his scenes were opposite Elizabeth Debicki, and that he was in awe of her commitment to her craft. Elizabeth of course, is best known for her work in ‘The Great Gatsby,’ ‘Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2’ and ‘Tenet.

Humayun doesn’t think that the series will give him a significant boost as an actor, rather that he hopes to apply all his lessons from this experience on his other projects at home. 

We are thrilled for Humayun and Pakistani actors in general getting more work overseas. We wish him all the success and more to come. ‘The Crown’ Season 5 hits Netflix on 9 November 2022, with all episodes dropping at the same time.


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