IRAN: 'Body of Lies' hot in Tehran, causes headache for actress
The Ridley Scott action-spy flick "Body of Lies" just hit the silver screen in the United States. But on the streets of Tehran, the Iranian capital, the movie is already selling wildly as a boot-legged DVD, and it's not just because women want to swoon over stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Russel Crowe.
Golshifteh Farahani, Iran's red-hot young actress du jour, plays the love interest in the movie, as Aisha, a Jordanian nurse who is the object of the attentions of an American spy, played by DiCaprio.
It may mark the first time in memory that a bona fide Iranian actress who made a mark in Iran's lively film scene has crossed over to Hollywood. And it may have caused her a bit of unwanted Middle East-style intrigue: Because of the movie, she' might have some troubles in her own country.
Farahani, a 25-year-old former music student with a million-dollar smile and a breezy laugh, has already starred 17 movies in her home country.
She was already a big star in the Islamic Republic. But after appearing opposite DiCaprio, she's become huge.
Over the last few days in Tehran, street-side book and DVD vendors have begun selling copies of the movie.
"Come see Golshifteh and Mr. DiCaprio!" the barkers holler. "Buy and watch with Farsi subtitles! Hollywood quality film! Come before they're sold out."
Young women in dark black all-covering chadors as well as those in slinky tight petticoats and colorful head scarves, young men in blue jeans as well as those in the prim dark suits and white shirts of the pious line up in droves.
Passersby popped out of taxis momentarily to buy their own copies of "Golshifteh," as the street vendors call the movie.
One young man at a street-side stall says he sells about 100 copies a day at about $1 a pop. The DVDs are mostly low-quality. Someone mounts a video camera in a movie theater and uploads the results to Iran, where they're burned onto discs.
Farahani's Aisha starts off the movie with a headscarf, but eventually lets it fall off to reveal her curly dark hair, a no-no in Iran's conservative film industry.
Appearing in the movie has already gotten her in trouble with Iranian authorities, Farahani told the New York Daily News in an interview earlier this month:
I had a lot of problems because of this movie ... [Iranian officials] took my passport. The intelligence service interrogated me several times. In the end, the judge said, 'We have to see the movie and then decide what we're going to do with you.'
Indeed, she said, though the movie has made her Iran's biggest big-screen darling, it might complicate her life when she goes back:
I'm totally in love with Iran. I have family there ... But I lost one opportunity to do a screen test, for 'The Prince of Persia.' I'm not ready for that again.
That's depressing to many Iranians. They fear that if she ever settles down abroad, state-run television will stop airing her movies.
-- Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran and Borzou Daragahi in Beirut
Photo: Golshifteh Farahani at the opening of "Body of Lies." Credit: Agence-France Press
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