Netflix’s take on the “Resident Evil” franchise is “a completely new retelling of the story that follows the tradition,” says popular South Asian and Canadian actor Ahad Raza Mir, who plays Arjun Batra in the series.
“Resident Evil” is a scripted live-action series that tells a new story based on Capcom’s hit video game franchise. Lance Reddick plays 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, acts as the studio behind the series. Andrew Dabb serves as writer, executive producer and executive producer, with Mary Leah Sutton also serving as writer and executive producer.
Mir has a body of work in Pakistan and has gained considerable recognition for his performances in “Parwaaz Hay Junoon” (2018), “Aangan” (2018), “Ehd-e-Wafa” (2019) and “Yeh Dil Mera” ( 2019). The series “Dhoop Ki Deewar”, where Mir starred alongside Sajal Aly, was a worldwide hit for streamer ZEE5. In Canada, Mir has built a reputation as a stage actor, including playing Tybalt in “Romeo and Juliet” (2014) and Lennox in “Macbeth” (2015).
Mir, whose casting was revealed by VarietyHe says he has played all the “Resident Evil” games and seen all the movies. He describes his character as someone who “plays a more pivotal role in the show’s emotional moments.”
“I really have a great understanding of the lore and history that ‘Resident Evil introduces to everyone.’ And what’s really interesting about this series is that it takes that tradition and everything, turns it on its head and gives it a whole new presentation,” says Mir.
“What’s interesting about the show is that because there’s such a huge fan base, and it’s such a huge franchise that people already have this great understanding and connection with, is that they’re creating these new characters for people who might not have played the games. and may not understand the show before. And they have this opportunity to connect with new characters,” added Mir. “It was a big deal for me, because I’m going to create a new character for the franchise.”
Despite being set in 2036, the series’ story arc is contemporary in that it is set in a world after a deadly virus. “In this world of a zombie apocalypse or a virus like this, people react in ways that you may not be able to justify when you’re living a normal life. One really interesting thing to play as an actor was living in this extreme world,” Mir said. “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 extreme of life and death. Whether it’s an action sequence or an emotional moment, every moment is heightened.”
The actor feels that the true success of the show is in its representation. “Sometimes on a show you’ll have the symbolic brown guy or the symbolic Asian guy, but what Netflix is doing is getting rid of that,” Mir said. “People are there on the show, it’s not based on a stereotypical skin-based idea of that character; it’s more about ‘this is the right person for the role’. And I like that that’s happening.”
Mir says 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 another series for this. Obviously it depends on how the show goes the first time. But I am hopeful.”
Meanwhile, the actor is currently filming season 2 of PBS Masterpiece and the BBC drama “World on Fire” in Northern Ireland and has projects scheduled in Spain and Pakistan.
In 2019, Mir starred in “Hamlet: A Ghost Story” for The Shakespeare Company and his portrayal of Hamlet earned him Canada’s Betty Mitchell Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor. He is eager to produce another stage version of “Hamlet,” this time in a 1,200-seat theater in Toronto, later this year.
“Resident Evil” is streaming on Netflix from July 14. Mir is represented by Hamid Hussain and Muhammad Yaqoob at Action Consultancy.