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What to Know About Hamza Haq, the Star of NBC's Addicting Medical Drama Transplant
The actor has won awards for his portrayal of Dr. Bashir "Bash" Ahmed on the Canadian series.
In Haq's award-winning portrayal he's played a Syrian refugee who after five years of living in Canada gets to restart his medical career in emergency medicine as a resident at Toronto's fictional York Memorial Hospital. And we'll see the actor on our screens once again when Transplant Season 3 premieres Thursday, October 12 at 9/8c on NBC. (The third season originally premiered on Canada's CTV in 2022).
But with exciting news also comes bitter-sweet. CTV announced in September 2023 that Transplant will end after four seasons. The fourth and final season is currently being filmed in Montreal.
In a post about the announcement on his Instagram account, Haq wrote in a caption, "All good things… Alhamdulillah. Grateful to have had this and looking forward to sharing the last little bit with y’all."
Below, we take a closer look at Haq after he's played Bash for nearly four years.
How Hamza Haq got the lead role on Transplant
After working with show creator Joseph Kay on Canadian series This Life, Haq said in an 2022 interview with The American Bazaar that Kay brought him on as a cultural consultant to help him while writing Transplant and creating the character Bash.
"I told him immediately I wanted the part but that was just me shooting my shot," Haq told the outlet. "When he pitched the show to CTV they loved it and asked if he’d considered anyone as the lead and he named me. They liked it. That was it."
The actor continued, "They searched Canada for another few months to cast someone of a Syrian background who could meet the necessary requirements to lead the show and they couldn’t find him."
On a personal note, Haq admitted to Toronto Life — also in 2022 — that he'd never watched a medical drama before starring on the hit series. However in the three years since the show premiered, he's come to identify a bit too much with Bash.
"As a brown guy, you’re expected to be a doctor. The last thing I want to do is watch shows about something I wasn’t good enough to do in real life," he said. "I was recently on a flight where they asked any doctors on board to come forward. There are procedures we repeat so much on the show that I actually thought about it. The arrogance!"
Is Hamza Haq from Syria like his character Bash on Transplant?
While Bash is a Syrian refugee who had to move to Toronto later on in life, Haq is a Pakistani-Canadian whose family immigrated from Saudi Arabia to Ottawa when he was 9 years old.
"Immigration is ultimately a choice and it was a calculated effort made by my parents, where being a refugee is a forced circumstance," he told American Bazaar when explaining the differences between himself and his character's moves to Canada. "I’ve always considered it as the difference between choosing to go skydiving and being thrown out of an airplane and finding your chute on the way down."
The actor researched books and documentaries about Syria and spoke with Syrian refugees to prepare for the role. He also has Arabic and Syrian dialect coaches in order to authentically portray Bash's native language and accent.
“My biggest concern was trying to do justice to the trauma that everybody who comes from that part of the world is experiencing, as well as anybody who has been forced to flee their country and find their own footing,” Haq told the L.A. Times in 2020.
The 32-year-old has won three Canadian Screen Awards for best actor in a drama series while playing Bash.
What Bash and Haq have in common
While they have their differences, something both Haq and Bash share is that they're Muslim men living in modern day Canada. The actor explained that the series' writers allowed him to share his own experiences with his faith and incorporate them into the show.
“I’m practicing but I’m not the best at it. I try to pray a couple times a day,” Haq told the L.A. Times. “But religion is such a personal thing, and the writers allowed me to speak to my personal connection with my religion. I thought that was a very generous thing for them to do regarding this blanket thing that people tend to do with a character.”
He also told American Bazaar, "I think the story of displacement and trying to fit in is a universal one. Being a brown man trying to fit into Canada and all the professional, social, political implications of that are something I saw my family struggle with and that I struggle with to this day while trying to maintain or configure my own identity."
Haq's other TV shows and movies
Haq, who is the youngest of four kids (and who is also single) graduated from Carleton University with a B.A. in film studies and minor in law. He explained to Toronto Life that his love of acting began as a child.
"I was the comic relief, the entertainment, either by choice or by luck of the draw," he said. "I leaned into that, and everything became a performance: dancing at weddings, doing skits for school. The next logical step was drama class and school plays."
He also told American Bazaar that his parents were encouraging of his chosen career path. "My dad has been fully supportive of the dream since the beginning, not without fear, but I was willing to put in a lot of work before ever asking for help so he knew I was serious," Haq said. "My mother was and is incredibly supportive too but like any mother she was just worried I’d starve so there was a little more hesitation."
Haq has appeared on Canadian shows The Indian Detective and The Life, in addition to recurring roles on Quantico, The Bold Type, Designated Survivor, and My Salinger Year. Most recently he starred in the film The Queen of My Dreams alongside Amrit Kaur (The Sex Lives of College Girls). It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September 2023 to positive reviews.