Iranian actress Shohreh Aghdashloo (House of Sand and Fog) plays the matriarch of a Middle Eastern family of terrorists on the new season of Fox's 24.
You have always said you wouldn't play a terrorist. Why did you take this part? When I started acting in the U.S. years ago, most of the auditions offered were either for terrorists or for battered women from the Middle East, and I didn't accept them. But this role was a full-dimensional character. She's a very, very strong woman, and she has many faces. And things may not be what they seem.
After years of your name being banned in Iran, it was printed last year for your Oscar nomination. What was that like? Just amazing. We have a saying in Farsi, "As much as you try to hide the moon in your backyard, one night it's gonna come out and shine." The moon is out now, and I'm so happy about it.
You're slated to be in the film version of Reading Lolita in Tehran. Why is a memoir about a women's reading group in Iran a best seller in the U.S.? It's got the Western literature that we are all in love with. I'm dying to play this role because [author Azar Nafisi] went to Iran right after the revolution. I left Iran in the middle of the revolution. This is the journey I deliberately decided not to take.
Any advice for the actors who will be getting Oscar nods later this month? Digest it. Absorb it. Observe it. Don't have an anxiety attack. When I was talking to some of the other nominees last year, I couldn't find anybody behind their pupils. They took it too seriously.
Were you nervous? Inside, yes. But as soon as I put my foot on the red carpet I thought, You have come a long way.