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'Homeland' actor talks shocking twist

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Showtime’s Homeland delivered an devastating twist in Sunday’s episode that resulted the loss in a series-regular character. Spoilers below for those who have not seen the episode.

Tonight’s hour saw the demise of the brave and empathetic CIA analyst Fara Sherazi (Nazanin Boniadi) after the terrorist Haqqani seized control of the American embassy in Islamabad. Below Boniadi exclusively spoke to EW about the episode. (And here’s EW‘s recap).

EW: When did you find out about your exit?

Nazanin Boniadi: I found out three weeks before we shot that episode. I got a call from [showrunner] Alex Gansa and we had just had our season premiere screening in Cape Town for the cast and crew and he told me he had difficult news for me but that the writers had decided to end Fara’s journey, but in a very poetic way, I think. He explained to me the reasoning behind it and it all made sense. As actors it’s always hard for us to hear that news, but in every case actors serve the story and when it makes sense to the story it is what it is and you go on.

What was your reaction?

It caught me off guard. I love Fara so much. I went through two weeks of mourning. It was very foreign experience to me; I’ve never experienced that as an actor. I was a fan of a character, I had grown to love her, it was hard to let her go. To watch the episode tonight was very difficult.

Your character has been sort of the moral compass of the show this season, especially since Saul has been sidelined.

Yeah I agree. I think they did great things with Fara.

What was that final scene for your character like to shoot?

It was gut-wrenching. When we shot the scene of Haqqani grabbing me at knife-point, and we had a rehearsal, but I didn’t hear them say we were just rehearsing, so I gave a full performance during the rehearsal and let it all out. I was devastated, so I really put it all into the scene. And then they said, “Let’s shoot,” I said, “Wait a minute, we weren’t shooting that?” I was right on the edge of the emotions and it was right there. I really love the character because she is in my eyes a groundbreaking character and I felt very privileged to play her for two seasons. And the fact I’m going to miss the cast and crew tremendously made the whole episode very raw for me.

You mentioned it’s a groundbreaking character. What’s it been like for you to portray a Muslim character working for the CIA on such an acclaimed show?

It’s been a real privilege. It’s nice to see a character that personifies this unity between East and West that’s rarely seen on television. Like you said, she’s a moral compass of the show, she was this season, she was last season. The arc of her character I think has really served Carrie’s arc. You had in episode six Fara questioned Carrie about the boy—”What about Aayan?”—and then in episode nine Carrie echoed that with regard to the boy with the suicide vest with Saul. I think she served a purpose on the show and it’s every actor’s dream to have a beginning and middle and end, and to have an arc that served a purpose.

What was your last day on set like?

It was bittersweet. Bitter because it was the end of a two-year journey that I cherished. Sweet because [the producers] surprised me with this very large  [photo] they blew up and framed had all the writers and creative team sign, and it was a very moving send-off and I’ve formed very close friendships with [the cast] and producers. But to be on a show like this is a blessing.

You recently booked a new role, as the female lead in the remake of Ben Hur. Can you tell us about that?

I can’t unfortunately talk about that yet. My lips are sealed.

You’ve been very supportive of women’s rights issues in Iran. Has that situation gotten had any improvement this past year and what can people do if they want to help?

I can’t say that it’s gotten better. But more voices help the cause and amplifies the message if there are more people involved. I think the best way to get involved is through AmnestyUSA.org and find out how you can join a local chapter. And also to contract representatives wherever we may be and whatever our human rights cause may be and make sure our voices get heard.

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