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, lets 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 Oprahs 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. Ive 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. Thats 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?
Its 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 couldnt 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 Im 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 whos a playwright called and said, I have written a play with a role for you. Would you like to read it and see if youd like to participate in it? I said, Why dont 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 whos been accused of being a member of the Shahs 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 couldnt 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.