You are here: Home » Interviews » ‘Law & Order: SVU’ Interview with Guest Star Shohreh Aghdashloo & EP Neal Baer

‘Law & Order: SVU’ Interview with Guest Star Shohreh Aghdashloo & EP Neal Baer

by Lynn DeVries on December 21, 2010 · 0 comments

in Interviews,Law & Order: SVU

LOS ANGELES - AUG 27: Shohreh Aghdashloo arrives at the 2010 BAFTA Emmy Tea at Century Plaza Hotel on August 27, 2010 in Century City, CA Photo via Newscom

Yesterday, Law & Order: SVU Executive Producer Neal Baer and guest star Emmy Award-winning and Academy Award nominated actress, Shohreh Aghdashloo took some time to answer questions about the upcoming episode entitled Dirty. This special episode will guest star Shohreh, and it will air Wednesday, January 19 at 10:00 pm Eastern Time. After the show moves to its new time slot at 10:00 pm ET on January 12, this fabulous episode with Shohreh will air on Wednesday, January 19 at 10:00 pm.

Q:  Shohreh, congrats on winning the Emmy in 2009. What does this award mean to you and does it have any impact on (oppressed) women in your region?

Shohreh Aghdashloo: Absolutely it means a lot to me. And a partial acknowledgment – acknowledgment. Of course it will help me to sort of prove to the other half, to the women in the other half, that there are democratic places in which they can function as women and still be acknowledged and be able to work and receive awards for that matter.

Everything that happens to me has a tremendous affect especially on the Iranian women inside – not only inside Iran but all across the globe. And of course when they give me an inch I take a yard to prove it more and more that the democracy that we’re enjoying from – in this country is for real and even, you know, people like me who have not been born here, who have joined the industry (unintelligible) not for a long time can enjoy and be benefited from this vast and huge and active industry that is willing to work with actors regardless of their background, religion and the color of skin and nationality.

It means a lot to me and also to my people to, you know, when Iranian women see me wherever I am they tell me that – how much – how proud they are that I can – I can open the doors for their children and the children of those children.

Q: Based on your background you seem to play a lot of these roles that have some sort of familiarity with your culture. What appeals to you about these?

Holiday Daily Deals at The History Channel Shop - New offers everyday!

Shohreh Aghdashloo: Well not necessarily, you know, relative to my culture but I love playing multi-characters, you know, complex characters such as the one I played. She’s a very hard working ambitious woman with her own dreams – pursuing her own dreams.

And, you know, in this brilliant plot that has been written by Judith McCreary, one of the brilliant writers of Law and Order, this multi, you know, what you call it, character, goes through a plot that takes lots of twists and turns, you know, every corner and of course it gave me more opportunity, you know, it gave me a great opportunity to portray the character as truthfully as I could because, you know, she constantly keeps turning and changing.

And we see at every – in a scene we see a new face of her that adds to her complex character. And you know how I give an arm and a leg for a character like that so when I read this story I immediately jumped on it not only because I’m a fan of this show and I’ve been watching it religiously whenever I had time, you know, not to only learn what is going on, learn about the law and order in this country but also just to take an hour away from who I am, where I am, what I’m doing and just sort of (draw) myself into some of the essence of the story that is so complex and so, you know, interesting to follow up without having to think about my problems or my being or whatever it is related to me.

It makes me to, you know, sort of pay attention to something else rather than myself; take an hour and just, you know, hear a story that is – that sometimes some of them stick with me for a couple of weeks, you know. And it’s just incredible that I had the chance of being a part of it.

Q: Law and Order is one of the more political shows on television right now. Do you feel at times that you’ve pushed the limit a bit and pushed the envelope a bit and is there any limit to what you would not show?

Neal Baer: Well I don’t think that – I agree that it’s – I think it is probably the most political show on TV right now but I don’t think there’s a limit to what we would do. There never has been. But we do try to tell stories that have a multitude of perspectives. We don’t want to push a particular agenda; we want to show a story through multiple points of view for instance through our characters.

So we can take on very tough issues this year like the backlog of rape kits or in the past we actually did torture in Iraq. We can take on those issues and through our character’s perspective we can speak about them. And I think that now, you know, now is the time to really have these conversations particularly, you know, when (we’re) doing that less and less often.

Q: We’re wondering if you could tell us what it’s like to be a guest star walking onto a show that’s been around as long as SVU; how does the cast welcome you?

Shohreh Aghdashloo: It is great. It is fantastic. I can’t even tell you what a great time I had with this wonderful crew, brilliant crew and brilliant cast. The fact is that for shows like this that have been around for a while the member of the cast and also the crew turn into a family.

And when you walk into the, you know, cast and crew you feel like you’re – they let you feel like you’re a member of the family. Apart from being a friend, you know, of Mariska Hargitay who’s not only a great actor but also a humanitarian, I loved working with all of them.

And they treated me like, again, like a member of the family and like I’ve been, you know, working with them for a while. Never felt, you know, like a stranger. They didn’t allow me to feel like a stranger. Day 1 I was there, we were all there, you know, they took me and in and we started and it was like I’ve been working with them for quite a long time.

And it was just incredible. I just hope that the audience will like it as much as we did.

Q: I’m sure they will. We’re also just wondering what the most difficult part of your transition has been from your early acting days in Tehran to your work in London and then finally to Hollywood?

Shohreh Aghdashloo: Well it’s – it could be hard and it could be, you know, interesting. It could be, you know, there are different interpretations to this really. You’re right, it is hard but what’s been most fascinating to me is that I keep learning.

No matter what since I left Iran, you know, I’ve been – and this is great, I’m very thankful for it, grateful for it because whatever, you know, I do each and every film, episodes like this which is really like a mini-film rather than – it’s larger than TV definitely, you know, gives me a chance and opportunity to not only polish my accent, to work on my accent, work on my skills but also learn, learn from all the good actors that I work with; learn how to do it fast and sweet; learn how to, you know, make it – make America understand what I’m saying.

You know, all these – it’s just incredible that I am working and yet at the same time it’s like I’m studying at a college or university and I’m having the greatest teachers in the world that is possible to have for an actor like myself to come from such a long, you know, way; almost 8000 kilometers if not miles. So I appreciate each and every one…

Q:  Shohreh, for you I want to know what did Law and Order: SVU give you as an actor that other projects don’t offer?

Shohreh Aghdashloo: Well it’s – and again this is a multilayered complex character, a brilliant plot which takes lots of turns and twists and the opportunity to work with all these good actors that I usually don’t get to work with. And also the (parts), when you see the episode on January 19 you realize what I’m referring to.

The plot is just incredible and it’s very complicated. And by now I love to be a part of complicated, you know, plots that would carry the audience with itself, would not necessarily entertain the audience but would educate, illuminate the audience. This is what Law and Order gives me.

Q: What’s the best part for you about playing a detective? What do you like the most about that?

Shohreh Aghdashloo: The best part is how to separate, you know, her private life from her social life. Private dreams from, you know, her collective consciousness about what she’s doing and who she’s working with and where she is at. The duality in other words I should say.

That gives the actor, like myself, the chance to portray all the faces, you know.

Q: Neal, I want to know with previous episodes of Law and Order: SVU there’s always been a tie-in or another issue like childhood obesity or, etcetera. What’s the message or tie-in to Dirty?

Neal Baer: Well this is a show that really explores what it is to be a woman detective and through the eyes of Shohreh’s character and Mariska’s character. Because this is a very – this is a unique episode which really only has Mariska and Shohreh in it.

Ice-T is in it a bit but it’s really about women who’ve been working for a while in their positions and what pressures, stresses and strains confront them. And so you can imagine with the talent that Shohreh brings to this – and also Gloria Ruben is in the show as well so it’s really the three of them, the three women. Gloria Plays the US Attorney so it’s the three of them kind of confronting what it means to be a woman in the top of their field with many pressures from men.

Well I’m glad that the last caller asked about what the – sort of what the topic is because I do think that it’s a very interesting one that we haven’t explored in great depth which is, you know, when a woman has been in her field for, say, 20 years or so what pressures does she see and feel that men might not.

Shohreh Aghdashloo: Well I’m just – all I can say at this point is to add to what you just said and this is what my character says in the episode. She says few women make it that far without stabbing each other in the back.

Q: Shohreh, I guess the biggest question is so what was it like working with basically an all-female cast it sounds like? Two great American actresses and yourself…

Shohreh Aghdashloo: Oh my God, yeah, I’m glad you asked. It was a pure joy, unbelievable. I’ve been looking forward to work with Mariska for a while, was hoping. And I had the chance of actually doing it and also Gloria.

The three of us had an amazing time together not only creating, you know, Mariska is already there, she’s been doing this for a while and brilliantly. So she was – and so is Gloria. All I had to do is to, you know, speed up, get to where they are and try to, you know, form this circle that tells the story and it was just incredible working with these brilliant actresses.

Q: Oh it sounds like it must have been a lot of fun.

Shohreh Aghdashloo: Oh my God, yes we did have a lot of fun, absolutely, absolutely.

Q: Neal, it must have been a dream come true for [you].

Neal Baer: Well it was. And also – well certainly because I’d seen House of Sand and Fog of course. And so we would go after actors whom we admire and want to work with. And so that was a no-brainer.

And also what’s interesting about this show is it’s directed by a woman too, Helen Shaver, who’s an actor who was of course opposite Paul Newman and Tom Cruise in the Color of Money is one of her very well-remembered films. So it’s really quite amazing.

Q: Season 12 had a lot of episodes that [dealt with] the justice system of United States. So what are we going to see in Dirty?

Neal Baer: Oh, in Dirty in terms of the justice system. Well I can’t give – I don’t want to give away – I don’t want to give away too much except to say that we show the pressures – I think it’s fair to say that we show the pressures on detectives and sometimes the sexism in the system towards – in the system on the side of the detectives.

That it’s not just a perfect place to work. And so we explore that element in this episode. And we also explore issues of friendship, loyalty; those are really critical elements of this episode.

Q: Shohreh, what do you think about the American justice being a woman from Iran?

Shohreh Aghdashloo: Well I joined the American justice at its best. I’m enjoying it as much as I can because couldn’t find it anywhere else let alone in my birth country. And it has, of course, like any other justice system at its best it has its own loopholes but it all depends on the people who are working on it and who  sort of relate to the society. I’m enjoying it.

Related posts:

  1. Exclusive Interview: Scoot McNairy, Bones Guest Star
  2. Psych: Interview With James Roday & Guest Star Ally Sheedy
  3. House: Interview With Guest Star, Meat Loaf
  4. Interview With Bones Star John Francis Daley
  5. Mercy: Interview with Michelle Trachtenberg & Taylor Schilling

Leave a Comment