Noor Fest Honoree Shohreh Aghdashloo Talks 'Grimm' Secrecy, Jon Stewart's Directing Style
Shohreh Aghdashloo has received many "special" awards during her 35-year career, but she says the one that's especially meaningful is her lifetime achievement award from the Noor Film Festival.
"It's very close to my heart," says the Oscar-nominated Iranian American actress (House of Sand and Fog), who will accept her award Thursdayat the Skirball Cultural Center on the festival's closing night. "It's not the first Iranian entity that's honored me, but this is the first time I've been honored with this award, a lifetime achievement award, from a film entity."
It's been a busy year for Aghdashloo, 61, who also returns to NBC's Grimm, which debuts its third season at 9 p.m. Friday. She'll reprise her character of gypsy queen Stefania starting with the season opener. The actress says that the scripts shrouded in such secrecy that even she is never sure what's going to happen next.
"Nobody knows what's going to happen," she says. "But on the other hand, that's what life is like. You don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. … We just keep praying we're not going to die."
Still, she says that she has been given freedom to shape her character as she sees fit.
"They told me I was creating this gypsy queen and gave me the lines, and didn't exactly tell me how to portray the character," she says. "That's the best times of my life as an actress because that's a time of creation. … All I need at my disposal is my imagination."
Aghdashloo -- whose credits also include X-Men: The Last Stand, Fox's 24 and HBO's House of Saddam, for which she won an Emmy -- also recently wrapped filming on Jon Stewart's debut feature, Rosewater, which was shot in Jordan. She has nothing but praise for the Daily Show host, of whom she was a fan before being cast in his film.
"When we were talking for the first time, I told him my husband and I were going to miss him because we watch his show every night," she says. "He said, 'But I'm going to make this movie with you.' I told him, 'I know, but I'm still going to miss your show."
He also took great pains to make sure everyone was happy and at ease while on set. She praises him for letting the cast interpret their own characters and giving guidance only when needed.
"The good directors allow you to do that," she says, adding that on day one he apologized to everyone for not being a "director." After the first day of filming, she was so impressed, she went up to him and said: "You were born a director. You do what all the great directors do."
She adds that there was a "line of beautiful girls" waiting to meet Stewart during filming. When she expressed surprise that they weren't there to see star Gael Garcia Bernal instead, one of them told her: "As far as I'm concerned, Jon Stewart is the star of the movie, because his program has always defended minority rights in the U.S."
Aghdashloo also recently wrapped shooting on The Last Night, opposite Morgan Freeman and Clive Owen, whom she calls "two gentleman," and also lends her voice to audiobooks, including the most recent, Khaled Hosseini's And the Mountains Echoed, which she "strongly suggests." She also released her memoir, The Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines, in June.
Meanwhile, she also praises Americans for making her feel welcome in this country.
"I've never felt like a foreigner her," she says.