The Netflix interpretation of the “Resident Evil” franchise is “a completely brand new retelling of the story that follows the lore,” says popular South Asian-Canadian actor Ahad Raza Mir, who plays Arjun Batra in the series.
“Resident Evil” is a live action, scripted series that tells a new story building on Capcom’s hit video game franchise. Lance Reddick stars as Albert Wesker and the cast also includes Ella Balinska, Tamara Smart, Siena Agudong, Adeline Rudolph and Paola Nuñez. Constantin Film, which previously produced the six-feature film franchise based on the games, serves as the studio behind the series. Andrew Dabb serves as writer, executive producer, and showrunner, with Mary Leah Sutton also writing and executive producing.
Mir has a body of work in Pakistan and has earned considerable acclaim for his performances in “Parwaaz Hay Junoon” (2018), “Aangan” (2018), “Ehd-e-Wafa” (2019) and “Yeh Dil Mera” (2019). Series “Dhoop Ki Deewar,” where Mir starred alongside Sajal Aly, was a global success for streamer ZEE5. In Canada, Mir has built a reputation as a theater actor, including playing Tybalt in “Romeo and Juliet” (2014) and Lennox in “Macbeth” (2015).
Mir, whose casting was revealed by Variety, says he has played all the “Resident Evil” games and watched all the movies. He describes his character as someone who “plays more of a pivotal role in the emotional moments in the show.”
“I really have a great understanding of the lore and the story that ‘Resident Evil presents to everyone. And what’s really interesting about this series that it is is taking that lore and everything and turning it on its head, and giving a completely brand new presentation of it,” says Mir.
“What’s interesting about the show is, because there’s such a big fan base, and it’s such a big franchise that people already have this great understanding and connection with, is they’re creating these new characters for people who might not have played the games and might not understand the show from before. And they have this opportunity to connect with new characters,” added Mir. “It was a big deal for me, because I’m getting to create a new character for the franchise.”
Despite being set in 2036, the series story arc is contemporaneous in that it is set in a world in the aftermath of a deadly virus. “In this world of a zombie apocalypse or a virus like this going around, people react in ways that you might not be able to justify when you’re living normal life. A really interesting thing as an actor to play was living in this very extreme world,” said Mir. “It’s fun as an actor, but it can be challenging because you’re trying to create this world, in your mind, in your imagination that is this one extreme of life and death. Whether it’s an action sequence or whether it’s an emotional moment, every moment is heightened.”
The actor feels that the real success of the show is in its representation. “Sometimes in a show, you’ll have the the token brown guy or the token Asian, but what Netflix is doing is, they’re getting rid of that,” said Mir. “People are there in the show, not based off of a stereotypical idea of that character based on skin — it’s more about ‘this is the right person for the role.’ And I like that that’s happening.”
Mir says that there could be a second season of “Resident Evil” and hopes to be in it. “From what I’ve heard, I think there will be there will be another series for this. Obviously, it depends on how the show goes the first time round. But I’m hopeful.”
Meanwhile, the actor is currently shooting season 2 of PBS Masterpiece and BBC drama “World on Fire” in Northern Ireland and has projects lined up in Spain and Pakistan.
In 2019, Mir starred in “Hamlet: A Ghost Story” for The Shakespeare Company and his interpretation of Hamlet won him Canada’s Betty Mitchell Award for outstanding performance by an actor. He is looking forward to producing another stage version of “Hamlet,” this time in a 1200-seater theater in Toronto, later this year.
“Resident Evil” streams on Netflix from July 14. Mir is represented by Hamid Hussain and Muhammad Yaqoob at Action Consultancy.
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