Glenn Close Says Learning Farsi For Role On ‘Tehran’ Was ‘Very Challenging’
Glenn Close can now add learning Farsi to her list of accomplishments. ET spoke to Close at the New York premiere of her Apple TV+ series, “Tehran”, Wednesday, where she detailed her return to television and the difficulties she faced learning a brand-new language for her role as CIA agent on the second season of the network’s espionage thriller.
“It was just such a new experience. Everything was new,” Close said of her first TV role since wrapping “Damages” in 2012. “Filming in Athens was new. Playing an agent was new. Learning Farsi was new. Working with a multi-lingual cast and crew. Meeting with a lot of Iranian refugees. Playing a lot of backgammon — now that always happens.”
“It just — it was a challenge and territory I never explored before,” she added.
While playing Marjan Montazeri, a British agent living in Tehran, presented its fair share of challenges for Close, the most challenging part perhaps, was learning Farsi.
“It was very challenging. It has a different sentence structure. It’s more like German, with the verb at the end. You use your mouth differently. It has certain sounds that we don’t have in English,” Close explained. “But I had a phenomenal coach in Anna Bayat, who worked with me on Zoom three times a week.”
She continued, “It’s just a lot of — you start with one word at a time, then sentences, then repetition, repetition, and then you have to learn the proper intonation, and then you have to say it faster than you think you ever can say it.”
Season 2 of “Tehran” not only introduces Close’s character, but it dives into the discussion of mental health — a topic Close is passionate about — in the world of espionage.
“My character is a very distinguished psychiatrist, and the backstory was that she and her husband had started this clinic for returning vets from the Iran-Iraq war, for people with terrible PTSD and everything that we have come to know is what happens when one has to go to war,” Close explained. “She’s hiding in plain sight.”
Close’s character not only makes her mark in the series, she’s made a mark on her co-stars, who all gushed to ET about working with the living legend.
Niv Sultan, who plays Tamar Rabinyan, said she couldn’t believe she was working with the “Fatal Attraction” actress.
“It was hard to grasp sometimes,” Sultan admitted. “We were standing there, and I couldn’t believe she was in front of me, and I was excited and nervous and happy and so many things at the same time. But mostly, I tried to catch as much moments as I can to just learn from her and watch her — I spied on her in some quiet moments, and tried to look at her, what she does.”
“She’s amazing,” she added. “And everyone knows how talented she is, but most of all, she’s a beautiful human being.”
For Shaun Toub, who plays Faraz Kamali, getting to work with Close was a dream 35 years in the making.
“I mean she’s an icon, so, it’s been amazing to have an incredible actress — and she has been around for a long time, so, when I heard that she’s gonna be on the show, I was so excited about it,” Toub admitted. “I’ve been in the business for 35 years, so, I’ve been working with so many amazing, amazing actors, and I always thought that someday, I would work with Glenn Close. And thank God, all of a sudden, they said, ‘Oh yeah, they’re thinking about it,’ and I actually knew about it before everybody knew.”
With Close in for season 2, the cast have a few other iconic actors on their short list should “Tehran” get renewed for season 3: Denzel Washington, Keanu Reeves and Liam Neeson were just a few of the names dropped at the premiere.
See Close and the rest of the cast when season 2 of “Tehran” hits Apple TV+ May 6.