Peyman Maadi plays a prisoner and Kristen Stewart an Army Guard in the film about the Guantanamo Bay military prison. They forge an unusual bond and humane respect for one another.
Actor Peyman Maadi, has been in films A Separation and About Elly, and since has finished the soon to be released Camp X-Ray screening in Los Angeles, October 17. Maadi recently did an interview with Javanan Magazine and Radio with Editor Mehdi Zokaei. Below is the translation of the interview, spoken originally in Farsi.
Mehdi Zokaei: Tell us about your new film.
Payman Maadi: This film is about Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, where they hold terrorists. I play the character of Ali, that for 8 years I am innocent and for 8 years I am there. The guards watch us very closely to make sure that the prisoners don’t kill themselves. Kristen Stewart plays the guard who watches my character in the film. The relationship between my character and the guard speaks to humanity, not about race, religion, rank, nothing like that.
MZ: Did you know Kristen Stewart before working with her on this project?
Had you met before?
PM: I knew that Kristen Stewart played in the Twilight films and is a very successful actress, but I heard that recently she wanted to steer away from those kinds of roles and take on more serious ones.
Our story began a few months ago when Peter Sattler sent me a script while I was in Iran. Because I am someone who is currently writing my own scripts, in this respect of reading scripts I am very critical. I really liked this one.
One day, he came on Skype, as I had known talked to him before. We had a lengthy discussion about the script and after an hour and he said that Kristen wanted to speak to me. Kristen and I spoke a few days later and she said that she didn’t sleep well the night before as she watched A Separation, because the film deeply affected her. She liked the film and my performance, and we continued talking.
The following week, I came to America, where I went to Peter Sattler’s house and met with Kristen along with Lane Garrison, who played in Prison Break.
MZ: What did you talk about there?
Kristen said she knew a lot about me, including that I performed in a play written by the late Samuel Beckett. The more I spoke with her, I realized that she has a lot of knowledge about theater and books, and I appreciated that.
We talked about the characters in Camp X-Ray and we would talk every day, over lunches and dinners.
MZ: What do you think of Camp X-Ray director and writer Peter Sattler? And how was his film received at festivals?
I knew Peter Sattler from before, a really great human. Behind any big project, a great man is standing. Peter Sattler is this kind of man. Like Asghar Farhadi, a great director, a great man, who was behind A Separation.
I am very to be in the first film by Peter Sattler. This film was at the Sundance Film Festival and they gave him a lot of great feedback for it. Critics gave great reviews for it, and now it will be going to festivals in France, England, Abu Dabi and others.
In this film, I don’t play an Iranian, I play ‘Ali’. I was glad to see that not one Iranian is imprisoned in Guantanamo.
MZ: What do you expect from Iranian audiences in regards to this film?
PM: Because this film not political and more of a human story, I expect that Iranians will come see the film as critics gave us praise for the film. I would like to see Iranians come and support this film by watching it.
MZ: We heard that you played in other American television shows and films. Can you tell us about these projects and if you are working on anything else?
PM: Yes, I played in Criminal Justice with James Gandolfini, who sadly passed away. They stopped the series for a while and so I returned to Iran. When I came back, I discovered that John Turturro was playing Gandofini’s role. From now until February, I will be working on this series that will be released on HBO.
Last year, I played in a film shot in Prague called Last Knights, in which Morgan Freeman, Clive Owens, and Shohreh Agdashloo are also playing in. I play the role of an emperor.
The film Camp X-Ray is scheduled for release October 17, 2014.