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When Homeland wraps its third season on Showtime this Sunday, several characters stand on shaky ground now that Brody (Damian Lewis) has dispatched with Akbari (Houshang Touzie) in the least subtle of fashions.
Scoring a one-on-one with the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, and slamming an ashtray into his temple, doesn’t only make him the prime suspect in his death — just to get into the room he had to raise suspicions about Majid Javadi (Shaun Toub), threatening the big play Saul (Mandy Patinkin) and Carrie (Claire Danes) have been working all season.
Whether or not that con comes to fruition hinges on Javadi’s longterm prospects. On he eve of the finale, Toub chatted with The Hollywood Reporter about where the character is now — and how he’s tried to add some charm to the season’s big villain in the wake of that whole wife-killing issue.
How concerned should viewers be for the Javadi play actually working?
The question is what is Javadi thinking now and how is he going to perform. He’s a survivor. He’s going to find a way to do what’s best for him. They have something on him that he can’t shake. They have it hanging over his head, but he’s in a position of power now. How he’s going to use this power is the question.
Did Javadi’s story change much from the way they pitched it to you?
Initially when I met with Alex Gansa, they gave me an idea of the what the role was going to be like — it didn’t end up being exactly that, but we knew he was going to be the big fish of the season. I was most interested in the background he had with Saul — how they used to be friends, and what he was supposed to do with the agents he was supposed to deliver to Saul. He took Javadi’s wife and son out of Iran, and he was left there.
There wasn’t a lot between you and Mandy.
It’s always the best to spar against the best, and he is very, very good at what he does. I had to leave myself open and not have any intuition about what the scenes are going to be like on the second take, because he really changes things up. I wish there could have been more with him.
Were you hesitant to take the role?
I didn’t want him to be just a bad guy. I didn’t want him to be one-dimensional. It’s always more fun for the audience to watch multifaceted characters. I wanted him to be that — not just the bad guy, but possibly charming and have a human side to him.
It’s hard to reconcile that charm with the man who stabbed his wife to death with a wine bottle.
That was a difficult scene for me. I had to try to understand why he was doing that because I had an issue with it. He was like a caged animal with his back against the wall. He had no other cards to play at the time. His only way out was to give in. He wanted to make life hell for Saul. This was the payback for him taking his wife and kid out of Iran. I don’t think he ever planned on it until Carrie turned the tables on him.
You’re an Iranian-American. What’s your take on the warming relations between the countries coinciding with this storyline?
I don’t know if it’s life imitating art or art imitating art, but Iran is back in the news in a very big way. I always tell people to take everything they see on TV with a grain of salt. At the end of the day, we’re trying to entertain. If we can ignite a conversation, that is amazing.
Do you think there is enough balance of the way people from the Middle East are portrayed on TV?
In my career, I’ve liked to stay away from politics in general. I’m also very careful in the roles I’ve chosen and generally stayed on the positive side — but if you want me to play the role of the bad guy, the antagonist or the “terrorist,” if that’s what you want to call it, there better be a good reason why the character is such. It can’t be that run-of-the-mill Middle Eastern terrorist. First of all, I hate that word, but I don’t look at Javadi as a terrorist. Javadi is an interesting character.
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