In an exclusive talk with ifilm, Iranian actor Sirous Kahvari-Nejad who plays the role of Prophet Joseph’s intimate friend reveals new details on the hit series, including the director’s stabbing on the set.
-The actor who did a great performance in the series plays the character Mimi Sabo in the historical series. Because of the latest screening of ‘Prophet Joseph’ on ifilm, the channel found a great chance to conduct an interview with Kahvari-Nejad.
** Did the role that you played in the series ‘Prophet Joseph’ was real in history? I mean, was the presence of this person verified in historical narratives or that is just an imagination of the screenwriter?
-No, this character was based on the scriptwriter's imagination in its entirety. There was no character with this name in history at all, but the late Salahshour had created the role to be the one alongside Prophet Joseph. At first, such a character was just on paper, but then, we talked with Farajullah Salahshour and the character’s dimensions were set and finally, what you saw on screen is the outcome.
** As per the plans, were you supposed to play the role of Mimi Sabo from the beginning? Or did you come to the conclusion that you would take on this role as the project went on?
-Yes, I was offered the same role from the very beginning, and the director preferred I played the role of Mimi Sabo. Of course, the role in the original script of the series was much less than what the audience saw on screen. But in the early stage of filming, Mr. Salahshour, when seeing my acting style, came to the conclusion that the role was a fit to the storyline and gradually added more lines to the role of Mimi Sabo, and the presence of Mimi Sabo's character as prophet Joseph’s best friend became more prominent in the series and eventually got to what you saw on screen.
** This character has never been in our history. In fact, there is no one you can relate to this character by referring to history. What did you do to perform better other than the director’s guidance? And what sources did you use?
-Technically, when an actor is going to play a role in a historical work, they must have studied that period and the character to be portrayed on screen. In fact, The actor must know about which historical period the work is set in and what this character did in the flow of historical events. Who the character is and what role it is supposed to play. Mimi Sabo's character was also a close friend of Prophet Joseph and had grown up with this prophet since childhood. In order to better play this role, in addition to researching and studying about Prophet Joseph and that historical period, I tried to get different opinions from those around me so that I could better play the role of this character and make it as a credible character for the audience. If you have noticed this, Mimi Sabo's encounters with Joseph are different time-wise, and each time he deals with Joseph according to each circumstance.
** As an actor, you have played roles in several historical and religious works, including ‘Mokhtar Narrative’. To what extent, are these roles coming out of your personal concern and interest in history? Do you like to play in historical series at all? Or is it related to professional reasons?
-In my opinion, acting is a social duty. We bring to life history for those who are interested in, but may not have the opportunity or concern to study that. When you portray part of history in a series, you have to be aware of this undertaking. Speaking as an actor, I should take the opportunity to appear in historical films and series and seize this chance.
Unfortunately, people are busy with doing other stuff these days and need to get acquainted with their own history and that of other countries and civilizations, getting the right worldview. It is the job of an actor to take advantage of such opportunities to explain the facts iamid ongoing media warfare. Playing historical roles in the same direction requires research and studies, and this factor challenges the actor.
On the other hand, playing in such works has its own difficulties. For example, we shot half of the series in the winter, and we had to go in front of the camera with the same clothes in the summer. It was very difficult for the actor, but we did it.
** How important, to you, is the role and its length as an actor, especially in historical works? Does it matter at all? Can you explain about this?
- It is important for me to work properly. For example, in the ‘Mokhtar Narrative’ series, my role was short, but it was in the right place in the story. Definitely, the impact of the role in the story is much more important to me.
** Many years have passed since the production of the series ‘Prophet Joseph’ directed by the late Farajullah Salahshour. The series was well received during its broadcast, both in Iran and abroad. What do you think could be the reasons for the success of this series as an actor?
-Yes, this series has drawn a big audience. The experience of those who are involved in making historical series in Iran culminated in a noteworthy work for the audience. There are no such capabilities in other countries, especially in the Arab countries. From time to time, during my visits abroad, I hear that Iranian films and series are well received and very much followed by the audience.
** ‘Prophet Joseph’ series is now broadcast on iFilm, do you remember an interesting memory of playing in this series?
- In a sequence from the series in prison, Joseph is attacked and I have to push myself in front of him to cover and then get stabbed and injured. When this sequence was being filmed, the director came up to me and said to stab him first and then the actor. When they were stabbed, they fell to the ground. The crew thought something happened and gathered around him and asked me what went wrong there. I said the director Salahshour wanted me to stab him first.
** How was the experience of working with the late director?
- I've worked with a lot of directors. Some directors were artistically superior, but the late Salahshour was morally excellent. In every situation, he never lost his temper.
I really do not recall any moment he behaved badly or treated me wrong. I mean this and am not saying because he is not around anymore. I do not think any of the actors and actresses in the series have had any unpleasant memories of the late director. In addition, he was very careful with financial problems and if he saw someone having a financial difficulty, he would help. He was also open to criticism. Figuring out the criticism was right, he would welcome with open arms.