1. Entertainment
Send to a Friend via Email

"House of Sand and Fog:" Interview with Shohreh Aghdashloo

By

House of Sand and Fog Shohreh Aghdashloo

Ben Kingsley, Jonathan Ahdout, and Shohreh Aghdashloo in "House of Sand and Fog."

DreamWorks
Iranian stage and film actress Shohreh Aghdashloo portrays Sir Ben Kingsley's wife in the dramatic movie "House of Sand and Fog," based on the best-selling novel by Andre Dubus III. Writer/director Vadim Perelman claims that Shohreh Aghdashloo was his first and only choice for the role of Nadi, a loving wife and mother who is stronger beneath the surface than she initially appears.

Producer Michael London explains, "Vadim and I looked at her tape, and she had all the qualities we'd ever imagined in Nadi. We brought her in, and she read and made everyone cry. There was never any debate or conversation. She was just it."

SHOHREH AGHDASHLOO ('Nadi'):

How did you get involved in “House of Sand and Fog?”
I was lucky enough, let’s put it that way. I was approached by DreamWorks, by Deborah Aquila our casting director. She asked me whether I wanted to come in for an audition. Since I had read the book two years prior to this invitation, I was like, “Oh my God, this is ‘House of Sand and Fog.’” I said, “Sure, by all means.” I went for an audition…

Amazingly enough, when I first read the book when it was first published, I got to know the book through Oprah’s show. She told us to buy one for ourselves and buy one as a gift for a friend. So I started reading the book and at that time we were on a tour. We were taking our play – my husband and I have a theater company – and we were taking our play to San Francisco. On the way to San Francisco I was reading this book. My husband said, “What are you doing? Are you angry about something?” I said, “If one day they make a movie out of this book and they do not give me this role, it would be really unfair of them.” When they called after two years, I was like, “I can not believe this.”

Why did you feel so strongly about the book and the role?
First of all, I loved the story and the role. I’ve been witnessing, like Nadi, going through so many difficulties ups and downs of women living literally on a roller coaster to sort of obey their husbands and devote their lives to their children. I wanted very much to portray these women somehow. I did a one-woman show but unfortunately it was in Farsi because I wanted to make sure I would have a built-in audience. That’s how we live, so we need to be sort of careful. I decided to write it in Farsi and take it to the stage in Farsi. I tried to portray Nadi, but this time it was in English and I was like, “Oh my God, I wish I could have that chance.”

When did you come to Hollywood?
It’s almost 16 years now.

What was your journey like?
I was in Iran, right at the time of the Revolution. Everyone was in turmoil when I left. The foundation for an Islamic Republic was there and I knew I couldn’t bear with a religious government. I was pretty modern. My family were intellectuals. I was young but I sensed I would not be able to cope with these people. I left Iran in February and I drove to Europe with two friends. I decided to start a new life and I started to study. I studied for four years and got my BA in International Relations.

I had promised myself that I’m not going to go back to acting; I want to get involved in politics and do something for my country. I had a friend who promised me a job in my favorite newspaper but the minute I finished my studying and I came home, a friend of mine who’s a playwright called and said, “I have written a play with a role for you. Would you like to read it and see if you’d like to participate in it?” I said, “Why don’t you send it home?” The moment I read it I was like, “Oh my God, maybe this way I can help my people more than getting involved with politics.” The play was about a man who’s been accused of being a member of the Shah’s elite and has been thrown out of the country. Now he wants to commit suicide right in front of Big Ben by the River Thames, so that maybe he could highlight what is going on in Iran. I realized this way maybe I can help better than working otherwise. I started acting again. We came for the play to the United States on a tour and here in Los Angeles it was a [big success]. I couldn’t even imagine it, it was so successful. At one point at one theater, people broke the window. They were trying to get in to see this play. I thought, “This is the place I should live in and start my new life.”

PAGE 2: Choosing Roles and Working with Ben Kingsley and Jennifer Connelly

ADDITIONAL “HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG” INTERVIEWS:
Sir Ben Kingsley, Writer/Director Vadim Perelman, Jennifer Connelly and Ron Eldard

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:
"House of Sand and Fog” Photo Gallery
"House of Sand and Fog” Trailer, Credits, and Movie News

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.