Photographer Isaac Alvarez
Story by Candice Hakimianpour
Bellus Magazine (BM): You’re currently starring as Xerxes on SyFy’s extremely popular, OLYMPUS. How is this role different from any others you’ve played?
Cas Anvar (CA): Xerxes is one of the smartest people in the room with the exception of Medea. He is always several steps ahead of everyone and his objectives, albeit single minded, are honorable in his own twisted self serving way. Most of the other baddies I have played were more in the vein of selfish destructive hostile types. Xerxes is like a dancer. He moves quietly, swiftly and surgically. Typically you wouldn’t even know he was there. Things just happen. But watch out, you don’t want to be on his bad side. He doesn’t suffer fools and he has no compunctions turning on a friend if strategically it is the thing to do. Sorry Pallas.
BM: After reading, “Simply Human Nature”, I was blown away away by your emotional honesty. Having been born with Persian parents in North America myself, the article resonated with me immensely. In what ways do you believe your upbringing shaped who you are and what you want to accomplish in your personal and professional life?
CA: My background gave me a very solid foundation in terms of my character. My parents instilled in me a great love of people and being generous and kind to others. I think that grew into an ability for me to be deeply empathetic and sympathetic to others and that sensitivity is a hugely beneficial asset as an actor. It allows me to put myself into situations I have never been in and authentically feel what that would be like. It also gives me a slightly different take and energy from the rest of my contemporaries. My diverse cultural background helps make me be a little more mysterious and hard to pin down… which ultimately makes an actor more interesting. In terms of my personal life I think my background helped me to be patient and courteous to everyone and ultimately allowed me to survive this brutal world of entertainment which has a tendency to chew us up and spit us out if we aren’t strong enough.
One of the things that I feel the most grateful for is the lessons my dad taught me. He was a great and patient teacher and mentor. I feel like, as I have gone through this arduous process of becoming a working actor, over the past 15-20 years, and learned so much and made so many mistakes, I have a lot to offer to those just starting out to help them with insight I was never given. That seems to be a calling for me.. mentoring the fresh new faces in this crazy acting world. I guess a little bit of the great mentor Altair (my role from Assassins Creed) as well as my dad has rubbed off on me and I couldn’t be more grateful.
BM: “The Expanse” is creating a lot of buzz right now. What drew you to this role in particular?
CA: I have been longing my whole career to play a heroic leading protagonist that allows me to actually be me. The vast majority of the roles I have played have been accented and foreign characters out of place in an American world. I have also always enjoyed doing comedy (I did a lot of it in my formative years with my Shakespeare troop in Montreal) and to be offered the chance to play a wise cracking space ship fighter pilot born on Mars with a Texas drawl who zips around with his friends trying to help save the universe, was just too big of a dream come true to resist. Alex Kamal was a role made for me, I am just glad we found each other.
BM: What has been your favorite part about your acting career thus far? Are there certain goals you have in mind for your future?
CA: I am a huge geek and gamer and comic book collector and sci-fi nerd. And I have been blessed to be able to play in numerous projects from that universe (including some amazing video games like Assassins Creed, Halo and Call of Duty). My favorite projects thus far are The Expanse and all my 3 shows with Creator /Director Nick Willing (Neverland, Baby Sellers and OLYMPUS). My hopes next are to take all that I have done and make the jump to the big screen doing similar types of things. Shakespeare and classics are in my blood… but I’m just an action hero at heart it seems. And my acting brought me to my love of paintball. My producer from SOURCE CODE started a paintball team with me “The Suave Bastards” and it’s one of my favorite things to do outside of acting.
BM: One of your most prominent roles has been Dodi Fayed, in “Diana”, opposite Naomi Watts. You were able to change a lot of minds who the real Dodi Fayed really was. What kind of research did you do before this specific role?
CA: Dodi was a very tough role to research as he was a very private man and due to the sensitive and controversial nature of the film I wasn’t given access to any materials or people in his family who could help me to define him. I only had about 10 days to prep for the role and I was fortunate enough to know several people who knew Dodi well (he was a very successful and well respected producer in Hollywood) and I pieced together an image of him from all the accounts I heard. In the end I think I captured the man that was described to me, but I know there was far more depth to be uncovered which will have to wait for the next time.
BM: Lastly, Jamba Juice or Starbucks?
ARE YOU KIDDING!?!?!? JAMBA! PRIMO ACAI BOWL with extra granola please!!!