7 actors who should be on J.J.'s list for Star Trek 2's new Khan

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Marc Bernardin
Dec 16, 2012

With the news that Benicio Del Toro is out of J.J. Abrams' Trek sequel—but that the genetically enhanced would-be conqueror is in—it's clear that Chris Pine and company will need a new adversary. Here are some candidates worth considering.

Before we go any further, it's worth making one thing clear: As originally conceived in the classic Trek episode "Space Seed," Khan Noonien Singh was from India, a Sikh, to be precise. Now, given old Hollywood's historic lack of sensitivity when it comes to portraying members of other races—Genghis Khan was once played by John Wayne—it's understandable why they cast the Mexican Ricardo Montalban as Khan. He was a great actor, and his skin color was in the ballpark.

But today there's no excuse to not cast an actor of Indian descent for an Indian role—especially when it would have no impact on the box office, given that, in this case, the franchise is the star. So here are some actors who could fit the bill.

Naveen Andrews

Credits: Lost, Grindhouse

Things have been a little quiet for Andrews since he played the tortured torturer Sayid Jarrah on the genre-defying ABC hit. But he's always been able to bring an imposing, ruthlessly meticulous intelligence to his work. Also, Abrams—who directed the Lost pilot and was an executive producer—should be somewhat familiar with his work.

Sendhil Ramamurthy

Credits: Heroes, Covert Affairs

While Heroes never really did much with Ramamurthy as mopey geneticist Mohinder Suresh—especially later in the show, when the producers basically swiped his plot from The Fly—he's blossomed on Covert Affairs with a character he can dig into.

Anil Kapoor

Credits: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Slumdog Millionaire, 24

A little older than everyone else on this list, Kapoor spent decades working in the Indian film industry before popping up in American projects. If he can tame that pompadour, his gravitas would make him perfect.

Raza Jaffrey

Credits: MI-5, The Cape

A classically trained British actor, Jaffrey's got the steel to go toe to toe with Capt. Kirk. (We'll overlook that he was also in Sex and the City 2; a dude's gotta get paid.)

Dileep Rao

Credits: Avatar, Inception, Drag Me to Hell

Here's the thing: If he's good enough for James Cameron, Christopher Nolan and Sam Raimi, then he's good enough for Star Trek.

Rory Cochrane

Credits: CSI: Miami, A Scanner Darkly, 24, Dazed and Confused

Don't let that boyish Irish-Indian face fool you: Cochrane's been banging around the industry since the early '90s, and he's learned how to use that face to disarm. A handy gift for a master manipulator like Khan, methinks.

Ajay Naidu

Credits: Office Space, Requiem for a Dream, Kings

Much of his career has been spent in comedy—Office Space leading to parts in Scary Movie 3, Bad Santa and 30 Rock—but when he does drama, he can bring it.