Star Trek: Discovery, and the Klingon played by an actor who doesn’t exist

Alex Moreland

Star Trek: Discovery’s fifth episode, Choose Your Pain, introduced Lt. Ash Tyler, a Klingon prisoner of war. Something about Tyler doesn’t quite seem right – Captain Lorca was quick to point out that his story of being held prison by the Klingons didn’t quite add up, given how long he’d survived.

Conspicuously absent in this episode was the albino Klingon Voq – the chief antagonist of the series up to this point. The last time audiences saw him, he was set to embark on a journey that would see Voq “give up everything” in his attempt to defeat the Federation. Given the early emphasis Discovery placed on the importance of Klingon identity and heritage, it’s not difficult to see how giving up everything could mean living as a human in disguise.

Of course, just because one slightly suspicious human is introduced at the same time as a Klingon character is suspiciously absent doesn’t mean they’re the same individual – correlation is not causation, after all. And anyway, we know that Ash Tyler is played by Shazad Latif, while Javid Iqbal plays Voq – don’t we?

Consider the following.

Shazad Latif was initially cast as the Klingon Kol, rather than Ash Tyler. Back in April, it was announced that a cast reshuffle had seen Kol recast, now depicted by Kenneth Mitchell, while Shazad Latif took on the role of Ash Tyler. Though still early on in the production process, it’s fair to assume that there would have been some makeup tests and likely Klingon prosthetics developed for Shazad Latif.

Meanwhile, Javid Iqbal is playing Voq. Or at least, that’s who’s credited as playing Voq – it seems pretty likely that Javid Iqbal doesn’t actually exist.

A quick google search for Javid Iqbal doesn’t yield much; the actor’s only role to date is in Star Trek: Discovery, it being the only role on a fairly sparse IMDb page that doesn’t even have any pictures of Iqbal outside of his Klingon makeup. (While another Javid Iqbal is on IMDb, it’s quite direct in noting that he’s not the same actor as the Javid Iqbal in Discovery.)

Interestingly, though the cast of Discovery have all been active on social media and attended promotional events to publicise the show, there’s not been a single appearance from Javid Iqbal. Their responses when asked about this are revelatory too – Shazad Latif referred simply to the mysterious IMDb page, but was cut off when he was asked if they’d met.

Similarly, a fan asked the twitter account for Nicholas Meyer’s dog Stella – yes, really – what they thought, and got the reply:

Nicholas Meyer famously wrote the Sherlock Holmes novel The Seven Per Cent Solution, and later adapted it to film, hence why Stella would be an expert in Sherlock Holmes. What’s more interesting is the reference to Jekyll and Hyde – not only is that a famous story of dual identity, it’s the role Shazad Latif played on Penny Dreadful. If nothing else, that seems to be a pretty direct hint.

The kicker, though? Shazad Latif’s birth name – according to Wikipedia, it’s Shazad Khaliq Iqbal. Taken together, all of these things feel like a trail of breadcrumbs, left deliberately for fans to find and speculate over.

It seems increasingly likely, then, that it’ll soon be revealed, possibly as part of Discovery’s midseason cliffhanger, that Ash Tyler is in fact the Klingon in disguise. A means to uncover him has already been set up – the tribble on Captain Lorca’s desk. Famously, The Original Series saw a Klingon disguised as a human unveiled because of how a tribble reacted to him; it’s exactly the sort of allusion to Trek history that Discovery has revelled in so far.

While it’s too early to say just yet, it’ll be interesting to see if tonight’s episode lends more credence to this still-developing theory – and just where the series will go from there…


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