Shohreh Aghdashloo

Shohreh Aghdashloo

Born Shohreh Vaziri-Tabar
(1952-05-11) May 11, 1952
Tehran, Iran
Occupation Actress
Years active 1976–present
Spouse(s) Aydin Aghdashloo (m. 1972; div. 1979)
Houshang Touzie (m. 1987)
Children 1

Shohreh Aghdashloo ( listen  Persian: شهره آغداشلو, IPA: [ʃohˈɾe ɒɢdɒʃˈluː]; born May 11, 1952) is an Iranian-American actress. Following numerous starring roles on the stage, her first major film role was in The Report (Gozāresh) (1977) directed by Abbas Kiarostami, which won the Critics Award at the Moscow Film Festival. Her next film was Shatranje Bad (Chess of the Wind), directed by Mohammad Reza Aslani, which screened at several film festivals. Both films were banned in her home country; but, in 1978, Aghdashloo won acclaim for her performance in Sooteh Delan (Broken-Hearted), directed by Ali Hatami, which established her as one of Iran's leading actresses.

After establishing a theatre and film career in Iran, Aghdashloo moved to England during the Iranian Revolution in 1979, subsequently becoming a U.S. citizen. After several years playing small roles in television and film, her performance in House of Sand and Fog (2003) brought her several film critics' awards and a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She has continued to play supporting and character roles in film and television and won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for her work in the HBO original miniseries House of Saddam (2008). In 2013, she released her autobiography, titled The Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines.[1]

Early life

Aghdashloo was born in Tehran, Iran, as Shohreh Vaziri-Tabar, the daughter of Effie (née al-Sadat) and Anushiravan Vaziri-Tabar. She has three brothers: Shahram, Shahriar, and Shahrokh. Her stage name is from the family name of her first husband, painter Aydin Aghdashloo. After their marriage in 1972 when she was 19 and he was 31, she began attending theatre workshops, against the wishes of her family. She had always wanted to be an actress, and soon began playing leading roles in Iranian theatre and film. They did not have children and were divorced in 1979, when she left Iran for England at the start of the Iranian Revolution.[2]

Once she arrived in England, she earned a Bachelor's degree in International Relations because of her interest in politics after having to leave her home country. She was already familiar with England, as her parents took her to London as a child. She then continued to pursue her acting career, which brought her to Los Angeles. In 1987, Aghdashloo married actor/playwright Houshang Touzie. They have a daughter, Tara Touzie, born in 1989. She has since performed in a number of Touzie's plays, successfully taking them to national and international stages, primarily in the Iranian community.[3]


Aghdashloo made her American film debut in 1989 in a starring role in Guests of Hotel Astoria. Her television debut came in 1990 in a guest role in the 25 September, two-hour episode of the NBC television series Matlock, titled "Nowhere to Turn: A Matlock Mystery Movie". Aghdashloo played a saleslady and was credited for this simply as Shohreh. She returned to American television three years later when she played Malika (wife of the storekeeper Rashidi) in the "Jerome's In The House" episode of the popular comedy series Martin (aired April 1, 1993, and credited as "Shohreh Vaziri").[4] In that same year, she also made her next film appearance in Twenty Bucks, playing Ghada Holiday.

After seven years, Aghdashloo returned once again to the American film industry in 2000, starring in the critically acclaimed Surviving Paradise (راز بهشت), the first English language Iranian-American feature film released in the United States, written and directed by Kamshad Kooshan. Having been shown at major International Film Festivals, Surviving Paradise went on to become one of the most well received Iranian films in the U.S.

Aghdashloo made a brief two-episode performance in short-lived Honduran television series, The Honduran Suburbs, in which she played Zereshk, an Iranian woman who had arrived in the country to help the poor situation.[5] In that year, she also starred in Maryam (in which she played Mrs. Armin). After appearing as an exiled actress in America So Beautiful in 2001, Aghdashloo played opposite Ben Kingsley and Jennifer Connelly in director Vadim Perelman's House of Sand and Fog (2003).[6] She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress,[7] however the award was won by Renée Zellweger for Cold Mountain.

Following this exposure, she received good reviews for her 12 episodes on Season 4 of the Fox television series 24,[8] playing Dina Araz, a terrorist undercover in Los Angeles as a well-to-do housewife and mother. This storyline raised controversy in Iranian-American and Muslim-American communities, and in an interview with Time magazine, Aghdashloo stated that although she had previously resisted reinforcing the stereotype of Muslims as terrorists, the strength and complexity of the role, and the money she would be paid, convinced her to accept the role. She went on to guest star on two episodes of NBC shows that were broadcast the same night, March 23, 2006: The "Cowboys and Iranians" episode of the comedy Will & Grace, in which she played a wannabe interior designer who, to the confusion of Grace, is a Persian Jew; and the "Lost in America" episode of the medical drama ER, playing a bereaved mother who loses her daughter in the trauma room.

Aghdashloo continued to appear in films. She played Dr. Adani in the film The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) and also appeared as the Dr. Kavita Rao in the sequel X-Men: The Last Stand (2006). Two other roles also came her way in 2006, that of a wealthy housewife whose family lovingly takes in their cousin (who has been sent by Pakistani terrorists to kill the American President) in the satirical comedy American Dreamz and that of Dr. Anna Klyczynski, friend and colleague to Sandra Bullock's character Kate, in The Lake House.

In 2008, she served as an official festival judge for the 2nd annual Noor Iranian Film Festival in Los Angeles. The festival would later honor her in 2013 with an Achievement Award for her acting career.

On January 19, 2011, Aghdashloo starred in "Dirty", an episode of the NBC crime drama, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as Detective Saliyah "Sunny" Qadri.

Her other credits include narrating and producing a documentary Mystic Iran: The Unseen World, narrating the PBS documentary Iran: A Celebration of Art and Culture, narrating the audiobook version of Inside the Kingdom: My Life in Saudi Arabia and lending her vocal talents to animated movie Babak and Friends – A First Norooz. She also starred in the 2004 one-hour-long pilot episode "The Secret Service" (which was not picked up) and played the character Charlie in two of three aired episodes of the flopped TV series Smith.

At the end of 2006, Aghdashloo appeared as Elizabeth, cousin of the Virgin Mary, in the biblical film The Nativity Story. Aghdashloo dismissed the irony that she is a Muslim playing a Jewish character.[9]

In the movie Mona's Dream, Aghdashloo portrays Mona's mother, who is a Baha'i.[10]

Aghdashloo plays the lead character, Zahra Khanum, in the film The Stoning of Soraya M., a drama film released on June 26, 2009 in the United States.[11] This film marks the first time during her career in America where she plays a leading character in a major feature-length motion picture.

On September 29, 2009, Aghdashloo won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for her supporting role on the HBO original miniseries House of Saddam.

Speaking to a crowd of over 1,400 people at George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium on September 12, 2009, Aghdashloo, author Dr. Azar Nafisi, and Dr. Dwight Bashir, Associate Director for Policy at the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, added their voices to those concerned about human rights in Iran and the persecution of Bahá'ís in Iran.[12] Aghdashloo's talk in particular was posted to YouTube.[13]

Aghdashloo at the Toronto International Film Festival premiere of Septembers of Shiraz in 2015

Aghdashloo voiced Admiral Shala'Raan vas Tonbay, a character from the video game Mass Effect 2,[14] a role that she reprised for Mass Effect 3.

On October 9, 2010, the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans awarded Aghdashloo their Career Achievement Award during its first annual gala.[15]

In September 2011, it was confirmed that Aghdashloo would star in a London show, the Almeida Theatre's adaptation of Federico Garcia Lorca's play, The House of Bernarda Alba, as Bernarda Alba. The show ran from January 19 to March 10, 2012.

Aghdashloo starred in the film Rosewater (2014) and in Septembers of Shiraz (2015). Aghdashloo also appeared in Syfy's television series The Expanse (2015), portraying Chrisjen Avasarala, a "smart and passionate member of a political family legacy who has risen high in the ranks of Earth's governing body without once standing for election".[16]



Year Title Role Notes
1976 Shatranje Bad
1977 Gozaresh
1978 Sooteh-Delan Aghdas
1989 Guests of Hotel Astoria Mrs. Pori Karemnia First American film role
1991 Raha Raha
1993 Twenty Bucks Ghada Holiday
2000 Surviving Paradise (راز بهشت) Pari First English language Iranian-American feature film distributed theatrically in the United States, written and directed by Kamshad Kooshan
2001 America So Beautiful Exiled Actress
2002 Maryam Mrs. Homa Armin
2003 Possessed Woman Short film by Shirin Neshat
Pulse Woman
Mystic Iran Narrator Documentary film by Aryana Farshad
House of Sand and Fog Nadereh 'Nadi' Behrani Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress (3rd place)
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated – Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
2005 The Exorcism of Emily Rose Dr. Sadira Adani
Babak and Friends – A First Norooz Farah Animated film
2006 American Dreamz Mrs. Nazneen Riza
The Lake House Dr. Anna Klyczynski
X-Men: The Last Stand Dr. Kavita Rao
The Nativity Story Elizabeth
2008 The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 Professor Nasrin Mehani
The Stoning of Soraya M. Zahra Satellite Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture
2010 The Adjustment Bureau The Chairman (Role was cut from finished version)
The No Game Aunt Laila
2011 Iranium Narrator Documentary film by Alex Traiman
On the Inside Dr. Lofton
2012 The Odd Life of Timothy Green Evette Onat
2013 Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters The Oracle (voice)
2014 Rosewater Moloojoon
2015 Last Knights Maria
Septembers of Shiraz Habibeh
2016 Star Trek Beyond Commodore Paris
2016 The Promise


Year Title Role Notes
1990 Matlock Saleslady Episode: "Nowhere to Turn"
1993 Martin Malika Episode: "Jerome's in the House"
2001 The Honduran Suburbs Zereshk 2 episodes[5]
2004 The Secret Service Lila Ravan Television film
2005 24 Dina Araz 12 episodes: Day 4
Nominated – Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
2006 Smith Charlie 5 episodes
Will & Grace Pam Episode: "Cowboys and Iranians"
ER Mrs. Riza Kardatay Episode: "Lost in America"
2007 Grey's Anatomy Dr. Helen Crawford Episode: "Scars and Souvenirs"
2008 House of Saddam Sajida Khairallah Talfah 4 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Simpsons, TheThe Simpsons Mina Episode: "Mypods and Boomsticks"
2009 FlashForward Nhadra Udaya 3 episodes
2011 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Detective Saliyah "Sunny" Qadri Episode "Dirty"
House M.D. Afsoun Hamidi Episode: "Moving On"
NCIS Mariam Bawali Episode: "Safe Harbor"
2012 Portlandia Nelofar Jamshidi Episode: "Cool Wedding"
Mob Doctor Dr. Jayana Baylor 3 episodes
2013 Grimm Stefania Vaduva Popescu 5 episodes
2014 Believe Mrs. Delkash Episode: "Origin"
Bones Azita Vaziri Episode: "The Cold in the Case"
Scorpion Dr. Cassandra Davis Episode: "True Colors"
2015 Elementary Liliane Bellerose Episode: "Tag, You're Me"[17]
2015–present The Expanse Chrisjen Avasarala 8 episodes

Video games

Video Games
Year Game Character
2010 Mass Effect 2 Admiral Shala'Raan vas Tonbay (voice)
2012 Mass Effect 3 Admiral Shala'Raan vas Tonbay (voice)
2014 Destiny Lakshmi-2 (voice)

Other awards

See also


  1. World Archipelago. "The Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines". HarperCollins US.
  2. Shohreh Aghdashloo biography retrieved 2/25/2015
  3. source: House Of Sand And Fog DVD – Biographies
  5. 1 2 TV Guide: The Honduran T.V. series makes cameos for two unusual characters in Hollywood.
  6. "House of Sand and Fog Movie – Shohreh Aghdashloo Interview". 2010-06-17. Retrieved 2010-07-26.
  7. Monday, Jan. 24, 2005 (2005-01-24). "Q&A: Shohreh Aghdashloo". TIME. Retrieved 2010-07-26.
  8. Bianco, Robert (2010-05-21). "At the end of the day, Jack Bauer and '24' delivered". Usatoday.Com. Retrieved 2010-07-26.
  9. Stanley, John (2006-11-26). "'Nativity' Revisited". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2006-11-25.
  10. "Azar Nafisi, Shohreh Aghdashloo and Dwight Bashir Join Swelling Chorus in Support of Iranian Baha'is". 2009-09-12. Retrieved 2010-07-26.
  11. "Shohreh speaks against stoning". 2010-07-17. Retrieved 2010-07-26.
  12. "Azar Nafisi, Shohreh Aghdashloo and Dwight Bashir Join Swelling Chorus in Support of Iranian Baha'is". Bahá'í Community of DC,News & Events. Bahai Faith, Washington DC. 2009-09-12. Retrieved 2009-09-26.
  13. Aghdashloo, Shohreh (2009-09-21). "Shohreh Aghdashloo on Baha'i Human Rights in Iran". ctcny9. Retrieved 2009-09-26.
  14. Post a comment. "Celebrity cast announced for Mass Effect 2 game". TechShout. Retrieved 2010-07-26.
  15. "Announcing the First PAAIA Annual Gala", Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans, October 9, 2010
  16. Hibberd, James. "Syfy's 'The Expanse' space drama casts Shohreh Aghdashloo". Entertainment Weekly. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  17. "Elementary, Episode "Tag, You're Me": Full Cast & Crew". IMDb. Retrieved 2015-12-27.
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