'Transplant' Season 3: Hamza Haq shows Bashir's personal side in Canada's medical drama

The award-winning Canadian medical drama Transplant is back for Season 3 (Fridays at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on CTV), and one of the most joyous moments of the season premiere is seeing Bashir “Bash” (Hamza Haq) and Magalie “Mags” (Laurence Leboeuf), finally take their relationship to the next level.

“Obviously, audiences could see it and the writers could telegraph it,...there's been sort of a hesitation between them,” Hamza Haq told Yahoo Canada. “She wasn't willing to make the jump after that hug in Season 1 and then halfway through Season 2, Bashir turns her down.”

“When we read that they finally pulled the trigger at the beginning of Season 3, it was just like, ‘alight, cool, let’s see what this is going to be all about.’ There was so much anticipation, both fans of the show, and as people who get to play these parts, to see what they were going to do with the characters, what they were going to do with the storyline and how well we'd work together. So it was terrific exploring all of that.”

Hamza Haq and Laurence Leboeuf in
Hamza Haq and Laurence Leboeuf in "Transplant" Season 3 on CTV (Yan Turcotte)

For Haq, a highlight from Season 3 was getting the opportunity to explore Bash's "personal side."

“This season, we see a little bit more of Bashir’s personal side because he's been so stuck trying to prove himself at work and relying on these safeguards of Dr. [Jed] Bishop,...and dealing with the bureaucratic nature of the medical system in Canada,” Haq said. “When he's liberated from that a little bit at the end of Season 2, he has an opportunity to express himself in ways that we haven't seen before, both on the personal and professional side.”

“There's a bit more of an emphasis on where you are right now. There's been so much [focus] on everything that people have been through and establishing those characters, and their storylines,...and there's an immediacy to the season,...there's not as much focusing on the past.”

Transplant Season 3 on CTV (Yan Turcotte)
Transplant Season 3 on CTV (Yan Turcotte)

'You never really feel like you belong'

As soon as Transplant arrived on our TV screens in 2020, it quickly saw success not just in Canada, but internationally, including being embraced by the coveted U.S. audience. What really makes this show stand out is the way it taps into the medical drama formula we love, but we get to see these stories through the eyes of a talented doctor who fled to Canada as a refugee from Syria.

It's centred around this refugee story, which [creator] Joseph Kay…said often, and I've repeated this line, that here is a character that exists in every show, usually just as a side character, as a guest star, but this is the first time we go home with them, this is the first time we really put the spotlight on someone who comes from that kind of experienceHamza Haq

An example of how Transplant excels in both executing the medical drama construct, and telling a robust refugee story, starts off Season 3, when Bash starts the process of applying for Canadian citizenship. He ends up speaking to a woman who had been in Canada for 20 years before applying for citizenship. When Bash asks what took her so long, she responds by saying she raised a family in Canada and is "totally assimilated," but physically being in the office waiting to take her citizenship test reminds her that she isn't.

Haq himself remembers the process of becoming a Canadian citizen, personally relating to the conversation Bash has in that scene.

“My parents immigrated, I took the oath and I got my citizenship to Canada when I was 13,” Haq shared. “It's such a strange and beautiful thing, when you have to leave your home country for whatever reason, you inherently try to find acceptance, and regardless of how much you get or you don't get, you never really feel like you belong.”

“There's something in there where you just feel like you don't belong because somewhere else is home, but now this is home, and to be stuck between those two worlds is something that I know really well. It's something that the writers and our consultants were able to lend their voices to on such a personal level."

BERLIN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 20: Hamza Haq poses at the
BERLIN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 20: Hamza Haq poses at the "My Salinger Year" photo call during the 70th Berlinale International Film Festival Berlin at Grand Hyatt Hotel on February 20, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Matthias Nareyek/WireImage)

'Learning how to take care of Bashir has informed how to better take care of myself'

For Hamza Haq personally, having embodied the character of Bash for three seasons now, there are some elements, like the medical jargon, that are becoming like a second language for him. Additionally, there are some elements from the evolution of his character that he’s identified as mirroring his own life.

“I think in terms of Bashir’s evolution,...it's funny how art imitates life, and vice versa, ” Haq said. “There's a call to action this season where Bash has to take better care of himself more than ever before, he's worked so hard trying to maintain his status, his reputation as a good doctor, and his personal life ends up taking a hit.”

“That's something I can completely relate to... I take my work very seriously, I haven’t taken a vacation in 12 years… I've really put a priority on just getting the job done, to a detriment where I don't take time to take care of myself. I really don't, and that's something that changed this year where I am still not great at it, but I'm aware of how important it is and I'm taking the necessary steps to maybe put less pressure on myself… I think learning how to take care of Bashir has informed how to better take care of myself, and I'm truly grateful for that.”