Art And Culture

Changing Stereotype Mideast Characters in Western Movies

Peyman Moaadi (C) in a screenshot from 'The Night Of'Peyman Moaadi (C) in a screenshot from 'The Night Of'

Iranian actor Peyman Moaadi has the HBO’s limited mini-series 'The Night Of' on air these days, an intense crime drama, created and written by Steven Zaillian and Richard Price based on BBC’s 'Criminal Justice', in which he plays the role of the main character's father.

The entertainment website Vulture conducted an interview with Moaadi where he talks about why he chose the role, refusing to play stereotypical Middle Eastern characters, and filmmaking in Iran.

Now one of the country's acclaimed actors, Moaadi, 46, gained his international fame after teaming with renowned Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi as the lead actor in 'A Separation'. The film won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 2012, and Moaadi took home the Silver Bear for Best Actor at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Moaadi's role in 'A Separation' caught the attention of American filmmakers, and scripts for Hollywood projects started rolling in. "The creator, Steven Zaillian, told me he saw 'A Separation', and he loved the movie and liked my performance," Moaadi said.

In the HBO series, he stars as Salim Khan, a Pakistani taxi driver who loses his business after his son takes his cab out the night he is accused of murder.

"Before this came on the air, I had three, four other movies I did in the US, like 'Camp X-Ray'. I received some other scripts which I did not like," he added.

Moaadi believes that in Hollywood, they make a lot of films with Middle Easterners as bad people. The Chinese, the Russians and the Arabs are often portrayed as the antagonist in many films. "But I do not want to play bad-guy Arab terrorists or Iranian saboteurs. If they offer me an interesting Iranian character, why not? But as long as it is not anything that insults the people in Iran or the Muslims in the world, I do not like to be the representative of this kind of stuff," he added.

Speaking about film industry in Iran, where he has written scripts for several hit movies and made one movie as well, he said, "It is a big country movie-wise. They make over 100 movies per year. They have won almost all the prestigious and important award worldwide, at Cannes Film Festival, Venice, Berlin and the Oscars. It is an important country for movies, and there are a lot of issues to tend to".

On a probable collaboration with Farhadi again in future, their first cooperation was in 'About Elly' in 2009, he asserted, "of course we will do something in the future. We are close friends and very happy working with each other".