Staz Nair is a Russian-Indian actor, singer-songwriter and model, whose talent knows no bounds.
Eagle eyed readers may recognise Staz from The X Factor UK 2012, where he competed as part of Times Red. However, in recent years, he has starred in some of the biggest shows on TV. From playing Dothraki warrior Qhono in Game of Thrones to the lovable idiot Rocky Horror in Fox’s 2016 remake, Staz has proven that he can turn his hand to any kind of character.
However, beyond his obvious talent and chiselled good looks, Staz is a profound individual. We recently had the opportunity to speak to him during Film & Comic Con Cardiff, and it was a joy to speak to an actor with a sincere love and appreciation for their craft. His passion and humour was evident throughout our chat, which put us at ease immediately.
Staz was incredibly humble and grateful for the opportunities he’s been given, and spoke about his projects with genuine excitement. Not only that, but he spoke admirably about his fellow co-stars during the interview and in the earlier panel, showing great respect towards the likes of Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, and Laverne Cox.
Check out our interview with Staz Nair below, where we discussed all things Game of Thrones, Rocky Horror, as well as an exclusive as to what he’ll be doing next.
Welcome to Film & Comic Con Cardiff! How are you enjoying it so far?
I’m loving it babe, it’s been really really nice. Some of the costumes are fabulous, I’m getting to sit next to some awesome, lovely people, the best. It’s absolutely amazing, this is my second Con and you meet a bunch of actors that you’ve never met before and it’s really nice. It’s a really inclusive nature and I really enjoy it.
You’ve been on our screens recently in Game of Thrones. How have you found the experience?
Amazing. I mean, it’s tiring at times, we do 16 hours a day six days a week if you’re doing a full week but I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s been opening doors for me and as an actor, all you can ask for is more opportunities to do what you love. Thanks to this, it’s definitely helped me do that. I’ve also got to travel through most of Spain with it. Two seasons on with potentially a third to come, it’s just been an absolute godsend and I’m very grateful.
Were you a fan of the show before?
I used to watch the show, bits and bobs of it. When I booked the job, there was 50 hours to catch up on! It’s one of those shows where you’re like, “I’ll come back to it”. It’s like Breaking Bad, I didn’t watch Breaking Bad until it was all done and I binged it for two weeks, I didn’t really sleep much! It’s the same with this, and just as I was about to start watching it I went up for Trystane Martell, got close but didn’t book it. I started watching bits and bobs then the next year they booked me for this [Qhono] so I binged it for two months. I think I watched 3-4 episodes a day. It’s a great excuse to just sit on your couch and watch great TV!
You get quite the transformation on the show, from the hair to the beard! How did you find that?
Tiring! That’s another thing that’s tiring. You know me, I can’t grow a beard, I’ve never been able to grow a beard, don’t think I’ll ever be able to grow a beard! So it takes about an hour, hour and ten minutes to put it on. First it’s the chin piece, then the lip piece, then they cut bits of hair and actually stick it to make a natural hairline. Same thing with the hair, they have to glue it so between the hair and the beard, it takes about two hours. I’m up with old Emilia Clarke [Daenerys Targaryen] every morning to put her wig on, so we’re the only ones in the make up chair at 5:30 in the morning, which I looove [sarcastic laugh], it’s fantastic!
Speaking about Emilia Clarke, you spend a lot of time with her as most of your scenes are with her. What is she like to work with?
Lovely, so lovely. This year she’s been so, so busy, we’ve had little time to socialise but as a person she’s fabulous, very much unchanged by her success. She integrates with everyone, has a laugh with everyone, very girl next door vibe, she’s very normal. It’s a real pleasure [to work with her] and it’s a nice indication that fame doesn’t necessarily need to change you or turn you into this other worldly being that separates itself from normal people or society. She’s just awesome and so normal and it’s a great thing to see someone like that be that way.
You also spend a lot of time on horseback! How did you get accustomed to that?
I think I’m going to need a new coccyx soon, I think that’s been eroding away! No, but all jokes aside, a lot of fun. Terrifying at first, ’cause you watch it and you think it’s amazing, then you get on it – I’ve been on holiday and been on a horse but I’ve never full on sat on a horse and I had to look like I’ve been doing it since I was three years old, with a beard, topless, and long hair and a big scythe in my hand. There are a lot of variables that I’ve never experienced before but I did training and everything, which was terrifying at times, but amazing again. Thanks to the guys at The Devils Horsemen in Milton Keynes, they were the guys who did the training. They did The Knight with Heath Ledger, they did Gal Gadot for Wonder Woman, so they’re really great at what they do, they taught me well. I really want a horse now but it’s probably not feasible. What am I going to do? Where am I going to take this horse? Where is this horse going to live? I live in a small flat in London, so where is this horse going to be?! But would now like a horse!
You were also part of the Rocky Horror remake. How was that experience for you? It looked like so much fun!
Oh babe, that was to date the most special experience. I mean with Game of Thrones, whilst everyone is amazing and lovely, I came in season six, so there’s been six seasons where these people have been bonding and getting to know each other. Whereas with Rocky Horror, we all existed from the embryonic stages, we all started and finished it together and having that journey is just magical.
Ryan McCartan, the guy who played Brad, is one of my best friends now. If it wasn’t going to offend my two best men, I’d end up having a third best man at my wedding. Laverne [Cox] was an absolute legend to work with. Everyone had such an amazing work ethic and it was tough. I won’t go into too much detail, making Fox hate me anymore cos I say this quite a bit, but there was a bit of a battle between Fox and the creative vision of where we wanted to take Rocky Horror and how we really wanted to truly pay our respects to the original with it having a 40 year following and its premise and concept being so much deeper than just guys kissing guys and kissing girls and being loud and outrageous. There’s a real concept behind what it stood for and I think unfortunately Fox, for whatever reason, it meant we diluted it a little bit and that was difficult for us. But in terms of the creative process, that experience, I genuinely wouldn’t change a thing, it was so special.
As a cast you seemed completely tight knit.
We’ve definitely stayed friends. Christina Milian’s become a bridesmaid at our wedding, Ryan’s a groomsman and three or four of them will definitely be coming. If we’re ever in Los Angeles, we always make sure that we try and go for a dinner together. With these things you get to know people for three months, or if you’re shooting a movie for two, three years then all of a sudden it ends. There’s like this void which these people had filled, it’s so personal and you’ve shared all these experiences and then there’s a natural low. To still have bits of that from two years on and still be keeping in touch with them is really nice, sometimes often a rarity.
You got to sing in Rocky Horror too…
That was SO nice. I’ve never done musical theatre before, not since I was a kid, or tried the discipline. They’re different things – theatre, TV, film, even TV and film you can separate them slightly in terms of nuances or macro expressions but musical theatre, theatre and TV and film are three different styles of creativity and art. It was a real eye-opener – god, it’s hard to sing, act and dance at the same time! Especially in six inch heels and in a golden thong. Yep, I wore that, how embarrassing! Actually, it wasn’t embarrassing, it was majestic and I loved it to be fair. It was quite empowering once I got good in those heels! It was nice to combine another passion of mine – getting to apply a different part of what I love into my acting was really special. That’s immortalised now, I can now find myself singing ‘Sword of Damocles’ online and I’m really proud of that!
Are there any plans to go back into singing one day?
I’m still writing but it’s just taken the back foot. I’m really focused on acting and I’m glad I did because it’s really taken off but I’m never going to stop [writing], even if it’s just for myself, even if I start doing little gigs in a little cafe somewhere. My dream really is to act and write music, and what the writing does, whether it’s for myself or other artists, is up to fate and time. But 100%, music is such a personal thing to me, sitting on a piano and creating something…that will never go, even if it’s just for me.
Are there any future projects that you can actually tell us about?
[After double checking with his agent if he could talk about it] I am filming the next season of Humans, playing a series regular called Warden. He is the doorman for the rail yard where all the synths live. That’s very exciting and I start in a few days time!
Thank you so much to Staz Nair for his time. We can’t wait to follow his future endeavours, and wish him all the success in the world. Make sure you keep up to date with him on Instagram.