Interview with John Hannah and Hamza Haq of “Transplant” on NBC by Suzanne 3/1/22
This was a fun chat. I interviewed Hamza in 2020. It was great to meet John Hannah. He’s been in so many wonderful shows and movies that I love, like “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Damages,” “Spartacus,” “The Mummy,” “Alias,” and his starring role in “McCallum.”
Suzanne: How are you guys doing?
Suzanne: Nice to meet you, John.
John: Nice to meet you, Suzanne.
Suzanne: And Hamza. It’s great to see you again.
Hamza: Nice to see you too.
Suzanne: You cut your hair. I don’t recognize you.
John: Is that for work, Hamza?
John: You working just now?
Hamza: Yeah, I just wrapped yesterday.
John: Okay, good, good. Sorry, Suzanne.
Suzanne: That’s okay. Is this a movie that you just wrapped?
Hamza: Yeah, I just dropped this surreal indie comedy movie that I’m filming here in Montreal, or Vancouver, rather, directed by Kim Albright and starring Anna McGuire. So, it was a lot of fun. It was a lot of fun.
Suzanne: Does it have a title?
Hamza: It’s called With Love and a Major Organ.
Suzanne: That sounds like an indie title, doesn’t it?
Hamza: Very much, yeah.
Suzanne: Yeah, so when did you guys film season two? Because when I talked to you in 2020, you hadn’t started filming yet?
John: Yeah, we didn’t start until 2021. We were supposed to start late 2020, and then it got pushed and shoved and pulled and pushed, and we ended up starting late February 2020 – 2021, sorry, I’m all mixed up. This is ‘22 isn’t it?
Suzanne: Yeah. What year is it? I don’t know.
John: It’s just about a week ago. This time last year, actually.
Suzanne: Oh, wow. Okay, that’s a long time. Do you remember what happened? It takes like a year. [laughs]
John: Well there were these doctors…
Suzanne: So, in the first episode Bash says everything changes, which seems to set the tone for the season, wouldn’t you say?
Hamza: I would. I did. Yeah, it’s just yeah, it there’re so many new elements that the wonderful thing about how it’s been written and how it was presented is that like any bit of comfort that anybody found in in season one is thrown into chaos in season two, right from the off. So, we see everybody just swim through that chaos.
Suzanne: Bishop actually had a pretty bad season one, because he was shot in the head, and then had a stroke.
John: I was drilled, but it saved my life. I made dumb choices.
Suzanne: It was funny, when I saw that with him drilling in your head, because there used to be a soap opera called Port Charles, and the very first episode was a spin off from General Hospital, very first episode, they had that same thing. The intern drilled with a regular drill into this woman’s head, and everybody’s like, “Oh, that’s ridiculous. That’s ridiculous.” Apparently, it’s no longer ridiculous.
John: I mean, it’s not necessarily the way doctors would choose to do it, but needs must, you know, when the devil rides.
Hamza: Like the equivalent of like tying a string to your tooth and closing the door when you need to extract, you know what I mean? It’s kind of the same thing. A dentist wouldn’t do it, but it worked.
Suzanne: Or like when they always seem to do a medical shows when somebody is having that problem breathing, and they stick the inner lining of the pen and tube, and then it happens so much. I’m sure it doesn’t happen that much in real life, but it always happened on every medical show.
Hamza: I haven’t I haven’t done it yet, but it’s early in the day.
Suzanne: So, there’re a lot of politics in this season. John, can you talk about what Bishop faces this season, all of the things that he faced?
John: Yeah, I mean, Bishop kind of played a bit fast and loose with what he should have done and should have declared and his own health in season one, and that got us to where it got him to, back in bed. And season two in a lot of ways is navigating through those choices, politics. It’s corporate politics, really, isn’t it? I mean, the medical profession is no different from any other corporation, and for somebody to get to the top, they have to be fairly skilled at kind of maneuvering as well as being talented at the hospital, at the medical stuff and man management. So, yeah, he deals a lot with that. And the second season, which is kind of interesting, I think that we have the medical procedures, the things that happen. We have the human side of it, and then there is this corporate shark infested water that is, again, perhaps from a liberal point of view, he’s cynically trying to manipulate to hold on to his position.
Suzanne: And we saw this guy come in, Mark Novak, while he was unavailable. Then, we saw, I believe, six episodes, and he leaves at the end. Does he come back later this season? Can you tell us if you’re allowed to?
Hamza: We’re not.
John: Are we not? [unintelligible] I think he’s there and it sets up this conflict in styles, and I think that that works well, in terms of the the jeopardy that it puts pressure upon his history with Novak. It also puts Hamza’s character in a lot of jeopardy as well, because, obviously, I have a sort of protective cloak around them. So, I mean, I think anybody who understands drama would look at it and say there’s a lot of potential there. So, chances are, he comes back.
Suzanne: Okay, and Hamza, your character, he’s actually doing pretty well at first, it seems like. He gets an apartment of his own, or house of his own, and his girl girlfriend – fiancé – comes back to life. And he’s got something going on there with Mags maybe, and then his fiancé shows up and kind of throws a wrench into that. What can you talk about this season with regards to that?
Hamza: Well, we see Bash struggle a lot with the life that he’s creating for himself versus the life that he thought he lost. It’s more about, obviously, in that respect, not any of the medical drama stuff, because there’s a lot of stuff that happens there as well, and Bash gets roped into the politics of the inner workings of the [unintelligible].
John: He’s in the firing line as well, isn’t it?
Hamza: Yeah, there’re a few things that happen where Bishop and Bash’s personal and professional relationship [is] tested quite a bit, in terms of how they’re gonna move forward, and the same can be said about Bash and Raniya, his fiancé who comes back. She’s a representation of a life that he had lost, and now, the potential to bring that up again, and to restart and pick up where they left off, it’s a very exciting thing for Bash, and it’s something that he jumps into head on. It’s not until a little bit later in the season that he starts to feel that maybe he wasn’t in the same mental and emotional space that he was five years ago, because he absolutely isn’t. Everything has, like I said, changed, and he’s now moved away from the man that he used to be, and we’ll see how it tests that relationship, not only with Raniya, but with his sister, Amira, and with Mags as well.
Suzanne: And I can’t wait to see what happens next with his little sister, because the last one I saw was when Raniya was leaving, I’m sure she’s not gonna be too happy about that.
Hamza: No, she is not. I can say that much.
Suzanne: Right, and at least he’s going through therapy now. So, that also probably puts him in a different place like you were talking about.
Suzanne: I don’t think I would want a doctor who’s having hallucinations. Maybe it’s just me.
Hamza: You don’t know; maybe they’re having them already. You never know. If he saves the life and you get the job done, then his hallucinations are his own business, you know? [laughs]
Suzanne: Yes, in TV. In real life, I don’t know about that. Maybe you might pick up something by accident. It’s not a drill when he needs to get your head, you never know. So, how many episodes total are there? I’ve seen six.
Hamza: There’s seven more to go.
Suzanne: Seven more. Oh, good. So, it is actually thirteen this season. That’s good to know. And anything else that you’d like to tell us about the season, or anything else you’ve got going on, John?
John: I mean, I just I think the show, it keeps twisting and turning, as you say. There’s the politics of it, which is the jeopardy that we’re both in, and that puts a strain on our relationship, our closeness, which I think’s natural. It shakes it up a bit. Everyone’s in jeopardy with what’s going on. The guy on the right has keep it going for the whole thirteen, I think. Hamza, you?
Hamza: Yeah, I just think that just from a storyline perspective, we got very lucky with season two that the writers gave so much richness to all the characters, and we really dive a lot deeper into everybody, and not just, you know, you’re talking to Bishop and Bashir now, but, for fans of the show, everybody across the board has a much richer, more well balanced, like, human story to tell. Like, we dive into Mag’s personal life. Theo’s exploring his, you know, the contentiousness of him being this traveling doctor, and his being apart from his family, and then the relationship between June and her father, and also like her struggle between the two surgical residents as well, or surgical attendings rather, and it’s just so much more well balanced and dives into an emotional depth and a storyline interest that we didn’t see in in season one across the board for everybody. So, I hope everybody appreciates that, because there was a concerted effort to make sure that we see these characters as full rounded humans, and having seen the second season, I think we achieve that.
Suzanne: And are you allowed to tell us whether your character and Mags are ever going to actually kiss?
Hamza: No, as in, “no, I’m not allowed to tell you.”
Suzanne: Okay, I have to figure that happens at some point.
John: [unintelligible] know that you don’t or know that you do?
Hamza: I’m not allowed to say.
Suzanne: Well, I think I’m gonna guess that they are, just because they keep coming so close, but you never know; it’s TV.
Hamza: Tune in next week to see more on Transplant! Will Bash and Mags kiss? Will Bishop finally get – you know?
Suzanne: We want to know these things. You’ve got to have those ships nowadays. And John, what about your character and Claire? Is there anything you can tell us about that?
John: Yeah, I mean, there’s a second chances. I think the theme for Bishop is very much second season, second chances, and that’s true for Claire. That’s true for his relationship with Claire as well, and maybe this is the right time for them to come together, but, again, there’re some twists and turns in that the difference between what you think you want, and what really happens is, you know, we maybe take those choices and then discover that it wasn’t right, or maybe we don’t take them and wish that we had. I don’t want to give too much away, but there is certainly a journey that they go on together, and they care for each other deeply. They’ve had a lot of time together. That doesn’t necessarily always make it an easy path, though. As Hamza was saying, [it’s] the second season, so we’re not introducing the character[s]. We know the refugee story. Hamza is now embedded in the hospital, and that allows the time to spread out with the other characters via Hamza, and as we get to know them spin off on those other stories, which I think gives the show a richer tapestry. Not at all Hamza to say that it wasn’t rich before, but as you were mentioning, it allows us to get to know those other characters also.
Hamza: One hundred percent.
Suzanne: All right. Well, thank you guys. I appreciate you taking the time today, and I hope you don’t have too many other press that you have to talk to and that you have a great rest of your day.
John: Oh no, it’s always a pleasure. I mean, we spend eight months doing the show. It takes ten minutes to talk to someone to get the word out there, and that’s what hopefully brings the audience in. So, thank you for talking to us.
Suzanne: Great, thank you so much. Bye.
Interview Transcribed by Jamie of http://www.scifivision.com
Sundays on NBC (10-11 p.m. ET); Season Premiere: March 6
“Transplant” follows the story of Dr. Bashir “Bash” Hamed (Hamza Haq), a talented doctor and Syrian refugee, who fled his war-torn country with his younger sister, Amira (Sirena Gulamgaus), for a fresh start in Canada. After a truck crashes into the restaurant where he’s been working, Bash earns the chance to practice medicine again by using his field-honed skills to save multiple lives in brilliant fashion, including that of Dr. Jed Bishop (John Hannah), the Chief of Emergency Medicine at York Memorial Hospital in Toronto.
But Bash is told he’ll need to redo his residency in Emergency Medicine from the bottom and despite his obvious talents intuition, and training, starting over is not an easy road and his life experience is not a perfect match for the strict protocols at York Memorial. Through perseverance he makes inroads, developing camaraderie with his new colleagues, including the driven Dr. Magalie “Mags” LeBlanc (Laurence Leboeuf), the reserved and ambitious surgical resident Dr. June Curtis (Ayisha Issa), easy-going pediatric ER physician Dr. Theo Hunter (Jim Watson), head nurse Claire Malone (Torri Higginson) and even earning the respect of Dr. Wendy Atwater (Linda E. Smith), the department’s second-in-command who runs a very tight ship.
Jed Bishop (John Hannah), the team’s demanding, inscrutable boss, looms large and keeps everyone on their toes with a unique compassion and commitment to his staff that also connects them.
Season two picks up with Bash and his fellow residents reeling after Dr. Bishop suffers a stroke. With everything at the hospital destabilized, the place that Bash had started to consider home suddenly feels precarious. As the team adjusts to new colleagues while dealing with the challenges of life, unexpected faces from the past leave Bash seriously doubting whether his transplant into this new world was successful.
Bash’s hard work, compassion and hopefulness tell a universal story about the human ability to not only survive, but ultimately thrive when our lives suddenly change course.
Creator Joseph Kay returns as showrunner and executive producer. Director Stefan Pleszczynski joins as executive producer and will direct six episodes. Additional executive producers include Bruno Dubé, Jocelyn Deschênes, Virginia Rankin, Tara Woodbury, Josée Vallée and Adam Barken.
“Transplant” is produced by Sphere Media in association with CTV and Universal International Studios, a division of Universal Studio Group.
Please visit the official show site at: https://www.nbc.com/transplant.
For the latest “Transplant” news, videos, and photos, please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram:
Dr. Jed Bishop
Hannah came to prominence in “Four Weddings and a Funeral, for which he was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. His other film appearances include “Sliding Doors” and “The Mummy” trilogy.
His television roles include “McCallum,” “Rebus,” “New Street Law,” “Cold Blood,” “Spartacus,” “A Touch of Cloth,” “Atlantis,” “Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D,” “Overboard” and “Trust Me.”
Bashir “Bash” Hamed
A Canadian Screen Award winner for Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series (2021), Haq was also honored as one of Canada’s Rising Stars by the Hollywood Reporter in 2017.
In 2018, Haq appeared alongside William Shatner and Russell Peters as twins Amal and Gopal in the CTV miniseries “Indian Detective,” and earned critical acclaim in the CBC drama “This Life,” for which he earned a 2018 Canadian Screen Award nomination for Best Guest Performance. Other notable credits include recurring roles on the Cinemax series “Jett”
opposite Carla Gugino; “Quantico,” starring Priyanka Chopra; and “The Art of More,” with Dennis Quaid and Kate Bosworth.
Additional television credits include “Designated Survivor,” “The Bold Type,” “Being Human” and “Best Laid Plans.” He hosted two seasons of the International Emmy Award-nominated children’s series “Look Kool” and plays Jassie on the CBC Gem digital original drama “The 410.” On the big screen, Haq has appeared in “Bon Cop,” “Bad Cop 2” with Colm Feore, “The Death” and “Life of John F. Donovan” directed by Xavier Dolan, Darren Aronofsky’s “Mother!” and “Run This Town,” detailing the turbulent final year of Rob Ford’s tenure as the mayor of Toronto. He also had a role in “My Salinger Year,” which opened the 70th Berlin International Film Festival in 2020.
Haq is a 2020 recipient of RBC’s Top 25 Canadian Immigrants Award and recently partnered with the Canada Media Fund’s Made | Nous campaign as ambassador to celebrate Islamic History Month. He spoke at the 2021 TEDx Toronto Fall digital event series “Uncharted,” using his public platform to speak on issues important to him, including refugees’ rights, racial
injustice and combating stereotypes, and was honored as Playback’s Breakout Star of the Year.
Raised in Ottawa, Haq is youngest of four siblings born in Saudi Arabia to Pakistani parents and has called Canada home for almost 20 years. He holds a bachelor of arts in film studies with a minor in law from Carleton University.
Proofread and Edited by Brenda