Humayun Saeed is one of the biggest stars in Pakistan. He is also the biggest producer in the industry. Humayun Saeed has done countless projects in Pakistan with his recent film London Nahi Jaunga becoming a massive hit in the country as well as overseas. But he has mostly stayed in Pakistan throughout his long career. Humayun Saeed is now branching out and he is making his Hollywood debut with The Crown.
Humayun Saeed will be playing late Lady Diana’s ex-lover Dr Hasnat Khan in the series and his first look is out now. Though Humayun has played very hero-like characters throughout his career, this is the first time he is playing a real life person on screen.
Humayun Saeed talked to Maliha Rehman for Dawn Icon where he finally opened up about getting to play a character in such a big series. Humayun revealed that he was actually familiar with Hamid Hussain who also represents Nargis Fakhri as he had talked to him once for casting Nargis in his own film. Then Hamid called him and asked him if he would be open to send an audition for a role. Humayun said that he sent the audition. Later he signed an NDA when he found out that it was for The Crown.
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. 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.
Next, I signed an NDA [a non-disclosure agreement, which meant that he could not discuss the role with anyone] and was pleasantly surprised to know that the role was for The Crown. I had seen The Crown and was aware of its popularity. It was an exciting notion that I stood a chance to be part of the series. I sent my audition and, after this, I was asked to do an online reading with the director and then with Elizabeth Debicki, who plays Princess Diana in the new season. Things had moved really fast till this stage. However, after my reading with Elizabeth, I didn’t hear back from Hamid. I resigned myself to thinking that the role had gone to someone else. But then, on the tenth day, I got a call from Hamid and all he said was ‘Congratulations!’ Soon, I was in London, isolating for a week before my first day on set.
Humayun also revealed that he did a week long workshop to understand Dr Hasnat’s character as he is a very private person and not much is known about him.
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 had a great experience working with Elizabeth Debicki.
I am always nervous before I begin working on a project and, in this case, with a completely new team, for a series that is watched worldwide, I naturally had apprehensions. I told Elizabeth I was nervous before we started filming and she was very sweet. She told me that, until our rehearsal, even she had been nervous, but now she was confident that we would do a great job. This definitely helped.
Humayun also shared how he felt about getting into a very non-glamorous role as he usually plays a very hero-like characters.
I would sometimes try to push up my hair right before a scene, 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’t look 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.
He further added:
The hair, make-up and styling was done in such a way that my face looked different. My hair and moustache were changed. My hair was thinned and it was parted sideways so that it seemed that I was slightly balding. I also stopped watching my diet for a while. Usually for roles, I have to watch what I eat in order to not gain weight but, in this case, I just ate whatever I felt like.