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Iranian superstar talks with US news outlet

Iranian superstar Shahab Hosseini talks with US news outlet Salon about his eerie psychological thriller set in a hotel.

US news outlet Salon talks with Iranian star Shahab Hosseini about the first Iran-US joint film to be released in four decades with the horror flick ‘The Night’ about to open on January  29.

The eerie Iranian horror film, ‘The Night’, directed by  Kourosh Ahari, stars Shahab Hosseini.

The flick is set in an old hotel in the US. The couple is repeatedly disturbed by knocks at their door, noises from above, and even a voice whispering "Mommy."

Below are the selected parts of the interview with Shahab Hosseini who starred in Oscar-winning Iranian movie ‘The Salesman’.

What was the worst night you ever had in a hotel?

Shahab Hosseini: I was at reception to check out of a hotel and they fined me $150 for smoking in a non-smoking room. I smoked and I paid. [Laughs] That was a bad memory.

Babak is hurting from his toothache, … he is over-tired, and he is unsettled. Shahab, your movement expresses so much of his physical and psychological pain. What can you say about mindset of your character?

Hosseini: My idea of 'The Night' was that there is a chronic toothache that leads to a nightmare. I shared this with Kourosh and he liked it. Through the film, gradually, the tooth thing gains in intensity to the point where it frustrates him. He tries to assuage it through drugs and drinking alcohol, and that becomes a gateway to the nightmare. I had not decided in advance what to do or what not to do. I basically went with the story. We have the feeling of the toothache which might start out as a joke of sorts, or a headache that is temporary, but gradually it turns into a full-blown nightmare and he finds himself in a swamp he gets deeper and deeper into with no way out.

Babak is stubborn, he refuses to capitulate to his wife; he is haunted. Can you discuss his character and how you built his backstory? 

Hosseini: Usually, all of our nightmares are things that have happened in our lives and are a direct result of our behavior. Those who are more selfish, and those who are more indifferent and angry at the world around them, are more likely to be afflicted with a nightmare. Babak acted selfishly in the past. He himself had forgiven himself but had not sought others for forgiveness, and life, in the form of a nightmare, has now entrapped him and made him face the truth.

Your film is the first American film to receive a release in Iran since 1979. What can you say about that distinction?

Hosseini: The movie 'The Night' is a production of Mammoth Pictures as well as 7Skies Entertainment. Kourosh, Alex [Bretow, a producer of 'The Night'], and I have created a company called Pol Media. Pol is a Farsi word meaning "bridge." Our goal is to create communication between the two nations that have been separated for many years. I don't want to say anything about the politics between Iran and America because politics is not my line of work. I am an artist. I have always wished for this to occur, and I believe 'The Night' has opened the path and has made the bridge stronger. This will be the first film in which the two countries are able to work together through art.