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Shohreh Aghdashloo

10/17/14

Shohreh Aghdashloo is an Iranian and American actress. After establishing a theatre and film career in Iran, Aghdashloo moved to England during the Iranian Revolution in 1979, and subsequently became a citizen of the United States.

 

 

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After several years playing supporting roles in television and film, her performance in House of Sand and Fog (2003) brought her several film critics’ awards and a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She has continued to play supporting and character roles in film and television and won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for her work in the HBO original miniseries House of Saddam (2008).
Early life
Aghdashloo was born on May 11, 1952 in Tehran, Iran, as Shohreh Vaziri-Tabar (“Aghdashloo” is the family name of her former husband, Iranian painter Aydin Aghdashloo), to a wealthy Muslim family. Aghdashloo started acting at the age of 18. Following numerous starring roles on the stage, she was offered her first film role in Gozāresh (The Report) directed by director Abbas Kiarostami, which won the Critics Award at the Moscow Film Festival. Her next film was Shatranje Bad (loosely translated: Chess with the Wind), directed by Mohammad Reza Aslani which screened at several film festivals.

 

 

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In 1978, Aghdashloo won acclaim for her performance in Sooteh Delan (Broken Hearts), directed by Iranian filmmaker Ali Hatami which established her as one of Iran’s leading actresses. During the 1979 Revolution, Aghdashloo left Iran for Windermere, Cumbria, England, in 1978, where she completed her education. Aghdashloo still owns a separate vacation villa that she attends during most summer parts of the year. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations. She continued to pursue her acting career, however, which brought her to Los Angeles. In 1987 Aghdashloo married actor and playwright Houshang Touzie. They had one daughter in 1989. She has since performed in a number of Touzie’s plays, successfully taking them to national and international stages, primarily in the Iranian community.
Career
Aghdashloo made her American film debut in 1989 in a starring role in Guests of Hotel Astoria. Her television debut came in 1990 in a guest role in the 25 September, two-hour episode of the NBC television series Matlock, titled “Nowhere to Turn: A Matlock Mystery Movie”. Aghdashloo played a saleslady and was credited for this simply as Shohreh. She returned to American television three years later when she played Malika (wife of the storekeeper Rashidi) in the “Jerome’s In the House” episode of the popular comedy series Martin (aired April 1, 1993, and credited as “Shohreh Vaziri”). In that same year, she also made her next film appearance in Twenty Bucks, playing Ghada Holiday. After seven years, Aghdashloo returned once again to the American film industry in 2000, starring in the critically acclaimed Surviving Paradise, the first English language Iranian-American feature film released in the United States, written and directed by Kamshad Kooshan.

 

 

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Having been shown at major International Film Festivals, Surviving Paradise went on to become one of the most well received Iranian films in the U.S. Aghdashloo made a brief two-episode performance in short-lived Honduran television series, The Honduran Suburbs, in which she played Zereshk, an Iranian woman who had arrived in the country to help the poor situation. In that year, she also starred in Maryam (in which she played Mrs. Armin). After appearing as an exiled actress in America So Beautiful in 2001, Aghdashloo played opposite Ben Kingsley and Jennifer Connelly in director Vadim Perelman’s House of Sand and Fog (2003). She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress; however the award was won by Renée Zellweger for Cold Mountain. Following this exposure, she received good reviews for her 12 episodes on Season 4 of the Fox Broadcasting Company television series 24, playing Dina Araz, a terrorist undercover in Los Angeles as a well-to-do housewife and mother. This storyline raised controversy in Iranian-American and Muslim-American communities, and in an interview with Time magazine, Aghdashloo stated that although she had previously resisted reinforcing the stereotype of Muslims as terrorists, the strength and complexity of the role convinced her to accept the part. She went on to guest star on two episodes of NBC shows that were broadcast the same night, March 23, 2006: The “Cowboys and Iranians” episode of the comedy Will & Grace, in which she played a wannabe interior designer who, to the confusion of Grace, is a Persian Jew; and the “Lost in America” episode of the medical drama ER, playing a bereaved mother who loses her daughter in the trauma room. Aghdashloo continued to appear in films. She played Dr. Adani in the 2005 movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose and also appeared as the Asian-Indian Dr. Kavita Rao in the 2006 film X-Men: The Last Stand. Two other parts also came her way in 2006, that of a wealthy housewife whose family lovingly takes in their cousin (who has been sent by Pakistani terrorists to kill the American president) in the satirical comedy American Dreams and that of Dr. Anna Klyczynski, friend and colleague to Sandra Bullock’s character Kate, in The Lake House. In 2008, she served as an official festival judge for the 2nd annual Noor Iranian Film Festival in Los Angeles.

 

 

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The festival would later honor her in 2013 with an Achievement Award for her acting career. On January 19, 2011, Aghdashloo starred in “Dirty”, an episode of the NBC crime drama, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as Detective Saliyah ‘Sunny’ Qadri. Her other credits include narrating and producing a documentary Mystic Iran: The Unseen World, narrating the PBS documentary Iran: A Celebration of Art and Culture, narrating the audiobook version of Inside the Kingdom: My Life in Saudi Arabia and lending her vocal talents to animated movie Babak and Friends- A First Norooz. She also starred in the 2004 one-hour-long pilot episode “The Secret Service” (which was not picked up) and played the character Charlie in two of three aired episodes of the flopped TV series Smith. At the end of 2006, Aghdashloo appeared as Elizabeth, cousin of the Virgin Mary, in the biblical film The Nativity Story. Aghdashloo dismissed the irony that she is a Muslim playing a Jewish character. In the movie Mona’s Dream, Aghdashloo portrays Mona’s mother, who is a Baha’i. Aghdashloo plays the lead character, Zahra Khanum, in the movie The Stoning of Soraya, a drama film released on June 26, 2009 in the United States. This film marks the first time during her career in America where she plays a leading character in a major feature-length motion picture.

 

 

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On September 29, 2009, Aghdashloo won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for her supporting role on the HBO original miniseries House of Saddam. Speaking to a crowd of over 1,400 people at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium on September 12, 2009, Aghdashloo, author Dr. Azar Nafisi, and Dr. Dwight Bashir, Associate Director for Policy at the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, added their voices to those concerned about human rights in Iran and the persecution of Bahá’ís in Iran. Aghdashloo’s talk in particular was posted to YouTube. Aghdashloo voiced Admiral Shala’Raan vas Tonbay, a character from the video game Mass Effect 2, a role that reprised for Mass Effect 3. On October 9, 2010, the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans awarded Aghdashloo their Career Achievement Award during its first annual gala. In September 2011, it was confirmed that Aghdashloo would star in London show, the Almeida Theatre’s adaptation of Federico Garcia Lorca’s play, The House of Bernarda Alba, as Bernarda Alba. The show ran from January 19 to March 10, 2012. Aghdashloo will star in the upcoming films Rosewater, to be released in 2014, and Septembers of Shiraz, to be released in 2015. Aghdashloo has also been cast in the upcoming science-fiction television series The Expanse. She will portray the role of Chrisjen Avasarala, a “smart and passionate member of a political family legacy who has risen high in the ranks of Earth’s governing body without once standing for election”. The series will air on Syfy in 2015. On June 4, 2013, Aghadashloo’s autobiography titled “The Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines” was released through Harper Collins.
Filmography
Shatranje Bad (1976), Gozaresh (1977), Sooteh-Delan (1978), Guests of Hotel Astoria (1989),
Raha (1991), Twenty Bucks (1993), Surviving Paradise (2000), America So Beautiful (2001),
Maryam (2002), Possessed (2003), Pulse (2003), Mystic Iran (2003), House of Sand and Fog (2003), The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005), Babak and Friends – A First Norooz (2005), American Dreams (2006), The Lake House (2006), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), The Nativity Story (2006), The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (2008), The Stoning of Soraya (2008), The Adjustment Bureau (2010), The No Game (2010), Iranium (2011), On the Inside (2011), The Odd Life of Timothy Green (2012), The Last Knights (2013), Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (2013), Rosewater (2014), Septembers of Shiraz (2014).
Television series
Matlock (1990) , Martin (1993) , The Honduran Suburbs (2001) , The Secret Service (2004),
24 (2005) , Smith (2006) , Will and Grace (2006) , ER (2006) , Grey’s Anatomy (2007) , House of Saddam (2008) , The Simpsons (2008) , Flash Forward (2009) , Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2011) , House M.D. (2011) , NCIS (2011) , Portlandia (2012) , Mob Doctor (2012) , Grimm (2013), Believe (2014) , Bones (2014), Mass Effect 2 (2010), Mass Effect 3 (2012), Destiny (2014).
Source: Wikipedia