After the airing of last night’s episode, The Wolf Inside, Shazad Latif spoke about his character on the show. Note: There are spoilers below. If you haven’t seen the show, don’t read further until you have.
Originally cast as Kol, Latif was recast as Lt. Ash Tyler, a security officer with a rather fragile emotional state. It turns out there is a good reason for this; Ash Tyler is really Voq, who has been surgically altered and brainwashed to appear as human so that the Klingons could have a spy aboard Discovery.
What was it like to have to be quiet about his dual role? “It’s been like a year’s worth of secrecy now,” said Latif. “It’s been a year of keeping up a crazy secret that a lot of people figured out toward the end. That’s always hard. I couldn’t say anything. The whole set was quiet in general because it was Star Trek anyway. It was like being in the CIA.”
Fans figured out the secret early due to Voq being credited at Javid Iqbal, an actor with no online presence or history. It turns out that that name had personal meaning for Latif. “I got to choose a pseudonym for this whole thing,” he said. “My father passed away six years ago. He was a big film buff.”
Latif said that he gave Vok “a softness. He had a quiet sort of sentiment about him, an emotional character which bleeds into Tyler.”
Tyler/Vok ended up back on Discovery at the end of the episode, after exposing himself and nearly ruining Burnham’s mission. “I think he’s realized he’s bloody messed up, because if he’d got rid of Burnham and Saru hadn’t come in, he could have completed his mission,” said Latif. “He needs to get in to contact with L’Rel. He’s feeling like he’s failed T’Kuvma; he’s failed at all kinds of stuff. There’s so many things going on in that one moment. It’s quite brilliant.”