Nazanin Boniadi on Her Upcoming Role in the Espionage Thriller Counterpart

January 21, 2018

The newest entry in original drama from STARZ is predominantly an espionage thriller but for fans of sci-fi, there is an element of that thrown in as well, as the story is built around the idea that there is a parallel universe hidden from the world by a Berlin-based United Nations spy agency.

Counterpart, premiering Jan. 21, begins with an assassin crossing over from one dimension to the other and then time is of the essence to track her down to prevent a tragedy. To do so, Howard Silk (J.K. Simmons), normally a lowly cog at the agency, is called into the action, and for the first time in his life, becomes aware that there is another Howard on the other side, whose life parallels his but has taken a different turn.

Howard is thrust into a world of intrigue and danger, which includes a mysterious young woman named Clare (Nazanin Boniadi), who becomes a major lynchpin as the season unfolds. Parade.com had a chance to speak to the former Homeland actress, who was born in Tehran, Iran and raised in London, England, about the new series, her favorite causes, and more.

This is more a spy thriller than sci-fi even though it has that one element to it. Why are we going to want to watch?

I was on Homeland so I have a little bit of experience with being on a spy thriller, but I think the thing that sets this apart is the metaphysical aspect. It’s like a genre mash up. It’s not just a traditional espionage show, but also it’s got some science fiction sprinkled all over it. What I love most about this is that it poses existential questions. It’s very philosophical, but at the same time it’s really grounded in the human experience.

It’s asking you questions about what if, identity, nurture versus nature, and destiny. Do we have power over our own destiny with our choices, or is it all predetermined? What sets it apart from other espionage shows is this idea of a parallel universe and another you.

Having seen four episodes, I still can’t put my finger on Clare. She’s this very mysterious character.

She’s exactly that. She’s very enigmatic. She is from the other side, obviously, and she’s Baldwin’s (Sara Serraiocco) [the assassin] handler. That’s how you see her in the first half of the season, and in later episodes, you learn more about her and her backstory. Episode 7 is a huge episode for her, in which she really comes into her own.

I would describe her as a soldier and I love this saying, this quote, “One man’s rebel is another man’s freedom fighter,” because it’s a matter of perspective. Is she a villain? It depends who you ask. So I love the complexity of this character. I love that she’s a strong female, multifaceted world character.

What happened to the other Clare, the one from this side?

I can’t talk about that.

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‘Counterpart’ First Trailer

November 18, 2017

J.K. Simmons’ Sci-Fi Thriller ‘Counterpart’ Unveils First Teaser (Exclusive Video)

September 02, 2017

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‘Counterpart’: Michael Nyqvist, Nazanin Boniadi, 2 Others Join Starz Spy Series

November 21, 2016

Michael Nyqvist, Nazanin Boniadi, Nicholas Pinnock and Sara Serraiocco have been cast as series regulars in Counterpart, Starz’s upcoming spy thriller. Oscar winner J.K. Simmons, Olivia Williams and Harry Lloyd star in the series, described as an espionage thriller with a metaphysical twist.

Counterpart is the story of Howard Silk (Simmons), a lowly cog in a bureaucratic agency who discovers that the agency he works for is really guarding a crossing into a parallel dimension. Through Howard and his counterpart on the other side, the show will navigate themes of identity, what-ifs and lost love. Starz ordered two 10-episode seasons in 2015.
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Starz

Nyqvist will play Chekhov, the hardened Director of Operations at Howard’s agency and a strange mix of philosopher and spy. Boniadi will play Clare, an enigmatic young woman of curious origin, who becomes a major linchpin as the season develops. Pinnock will play Ian Shaw, an aggressive operative and watchdog whose job is to ensure an uneasy peace between both dimensions. Serraiocco will play Baldwin, a mysterious assassin whose life takes on a new purpose when she is exposed to the other side.

Swedish actor Nyqvist’s flm credits include The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, John Wick, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Disconnect. Next seen in the feature Frank & Lola, he is repped by Authentic Talent & Literary Management, ICM Partners and Sweden’s Agentfirman.

Boniadi co-starred on Homeland for two seasons as CIA analyst Fara Sherazi. Other recent credits include Ben-Hur, Scandal and How I Met Your Mother. Repped by ICM Partners, Jordan Lee Talent and Stone Genow, she is shooting Hotel Mumbai with Dev Patel and Armie Hammer.

Pinnock appeared in History’s miniseries Barbarians Rising and recently starred in ITV 1’s crime drama Marcella. Other film and television credits include Captain America: The First Avenger and A.D. The Bible Continues. He is repped by Silver Lining Entertainment.

Serraiocco starred in the Italian features Salvo and La Ragazza del Mondo (Worldly Girl), directed by Marco Danieli. She is repped by UK-based Olivia Bell Management and Italian agency Officine Artistiche.

Created and written by Justin Marks, Counterpart is from MRC, Anonymous Content and Gilbert Films. Executive producers are Morten Tyldum — who will direct the first episode — Marks, Amy Berg, Gary Gilbert, Jordan Horowitz, Keith Redmon and Bard Dorros. Simmons also serves as a producer.

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Ben-Hur Interviews

August 21, 2016

Here are a couple interviews Nazanin did to promote Ben-Hur, which is now in theaters.

Ben-Hur’s Nazanin Boniadi Tells R29: “This Is A Great Time To Be A Woman Of Color”

August 21, 2016

Nazanin Boniadi couldn’t help but feel blessed last weekend. And it wasn’t simply because she was in Los Angeles promoting the Ben-Hur remake, an epic tale of faith, freedom, and forgiveness set in Jerusalem during Jesus’ carpenter years.

“At one point today, I was sitting in an interview with [co-stars] Rodrigo [Santoro] on my left and Morgan [Freeman] on my right, and I thought, ‘I am sandwiched between Jesus and God,’” Boniadi joked during an exclusive interview with Refinery29. “I’m pretty sure that is basically what heaven feels like.”

Not that her spirited outlook isn’t also bolstered by the fact that her acting career, which didn’t even start until after the Iranian-born, London-raised stunner graduated from college (with honors in biological sciences), seems touched by an angel. (Sometimes quite literally. Ben-Hur was produced by Roma Downey.)

“I am a Middle Eastern woman in a leading role in a Hollywood film with this kind of budget releasing in the summer. That doesn’t happen every day,” said Boniadi, who came from the Australian set of her next gig, Hotel Mumbai, in which she plays a hostage and wife of fellow captive Armie Hammer. “I am so grateful that [they] took the chance and did the right thing by casting authentically because this is what people looked like in that region.”

Still, Boniadi knows all too well that the casting process isn’t always concerned with getting it right or turning a color-blind eye. The Homeland and How I Met Your Mother alum recounted tales of her early days in Hollywood, addressed diversity in the entertainment industry, and touched on a variety of topics including how she almost became a doctor, Ben-Hur’s powerful and enduring message, and filming in the land of gelato, pasta and pizza.

Your bio makes it sound like you were well on your way to curing cancer when the call of the stage became too hard to resist.
“Since I was probably five years old, [I knew] that I wanted to help people and help make this world a better place, as cheesy as that sounds. I’m Iranian, so culturally it was instilled in me from a very young age that education is key. And then [my parents would] say, ‘The world is yours. You can be a doctor, a lawyer, engineer, or a dentist. I was like, Okay. Medicine sounds appealing because you get to help people…I’m going to be a doctor because that’s what good Persian girls do. I graduated high school top of my class. I moved to the U.S., and I went to U.C. Irvine where I studied biological sciences, pre-med. I graduated with honors, applied to a bunch of medical schools, and took the MCAT three times. I was doing cancer research and winning awards.”

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BEN-HUR Trailer (2016) Trailer

April 08, 2016