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'Homeland's' Navid Negahban talks about playing public enemy No 1

posted 13 Nov 2012, 05:03 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 13 Nov 2012, 05:04 ]

Iranian actor Navid Negahban talks about playing Abu Nazir, the multifaceted terrorist on Emmy winning television show "Homeland."

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIAUNITED STATES (RECENT) (REUTERS) -  Navid Negahban is the most wanted man on television. The Iranian born actor is firmly placed at the top of the CIA's hit list as Abu Nazir in the hit TV show "Homeland."

The post 9/11 psychological thriller was a runaway hit at this year's Emmy awards, picking up best drama after one season on cable channel Showtime. It also took home trophies for best writing and best acting for its two leads, Claire Danes and Damian Lewis, for a total of six awards including technical categories.

In a world where conflict in the Middle East dominates headlines, the character of Negahban's Abu Nazir has opened eyes and raised eyebrows among the show's audience. The drama is one of the few U.S. TV shows to depict a Middle Eastern terrorist as a human being first, a terrorist second. It's an element of the role that Negahban is quite proud of.

"I think it's a very brave show. The creators and writers are tackling issues that most people, they might not have thought about it, but they never dared to talk about it, to explore it and dissect all these different situations and issues," said Negahban. "Especially going that bravely and try to get to know our enemy and showing his other side I think is a great opportunity for us to open our minds and just pay a little bit more attention to what's happening around us."

America is still jittery more than a decade after the attacks on September 11. Negahban says playing a fictional terrorist on a popular show sometimes raises suspicions when he travels through airports.

"I was in Toronto, so I was coming back from Toronto, customs agent looks at me and says, 'Where are you coming from?' Toronto. 'Where are you going?' Los Angeles. 'What are you doing in New York?' I had a couple days, I thought I'd stop by and see some friends. And I knew that he knows me from somewhere, I knew that he thinks that he knows me. So he said, 'What are you doing for a living?' I was just tired, I said, 'Well, lately I've been playing the most wanted terrorist on TV,'" laughed Negahban. "Even the people who are behind me, who are standing in the line, the moment that the word terrorist came out, they were kind of stiffening and the custom agent said, 'I just saw the season finale. I love the show!.' He turns around and says, 'Abu Nazir is here!' So these are the attentions that I'm getting at the airport, which is okay."

"Homeland" started its second season on September 30, with an opening episode set against the fictional bombing by Israel of Iranian nuclear facilities and the global tensions that ensue.