By Iman Sadri
It’s no secret that Showtime’s Homeland has been one of most award winning television dramas in Hollywood over the past several years. It has been consistently nominated or has won a mutlitude of awards. Including the Golden Globes, SAG, the Emmys, and more. Homeland has helped launch or revitalize the careers of many actors. Damian Lewis came to prominence from the cable drama. Mandy Patinkin enjoyed a reboot in the second act of his career. Claire Danes became a familar face to a new generation of television viewers, who were otherwise not familiar with her in My So-Called Life. Another group of thespians who have also benefited from Homeland are a series of talented actors of Persian descent. Namely, Navid Negahban, Nazanin Boniadi, and Shaun Toub.
Navid Negahban’s Abu Nazir was the central villain during the first several seasons of Homeland. Spoiler Alert : Even after his character’s capture and demise at the hands of Danes’ Carrie Mathison, the importance of Negahban’s character still echoes in the plot twists of Homeland’s subsequent episodes.
Nazanin Boniadi’s character of Fara Sherazi became an important figure as more storylines in the drama series unfolded. Her role as the hijab wearing CIA analyst broke Middle Eastern and gender stereotypes, that were otherwise associated with her character. Boniadi’s Sherazi played a pivotal role in counter terrorism in the drama series.
Shaun Toub is the most prolific Iranian American actor in Hollywood history, with appearances in over 35 films and 100 episodics. Including unforgettable roles in Crash, The Kite Runner and Iron Man. But, it has been Toub’s role as Majid Javadi that has been one of the most impactful of his television career. ( Read our Q+A with Shaun Toub – persianobserver.com/prolific-persian-qa-shaun-toub-godfather/ )
Homeland has also provided important roles for Iranian American actors including Parviz Sayyad, Houshang Touzie, and Omid Abtahi.
Sayyad, best known for his role of Samad, played the father of Nazanin Boniadi’s character. Touzie played the role of the boss of Shaun Toub’s character. Abtahi played a conflicted would-be bomber.
Spoiler Alert: Out of all of the Persian born actors on Homeland, only the character of Shaun Toub’s Majid Javadi is still alive. All others were killed in different circumstances. During our interview with him, Shaun Toub would not comment on speculation about Javadi’s reemergence in Season 6 of Homeland, which is set to air January 15th on Showtime. We could only hope to see more of Toub on the tube.
Shaun Toub’s character, Majid Javadi, was once a villain. He turned and became a CIA asset. Just as Javadi has become a CIA asset, actors of Persian descent have become assets for Showtime.
Iman Sadri writes for Persian Media outlets and is founder of HollywoodSmile TV