Sheila Vand’s Taste for the Dark & Bizarre

13. Sheila Vand

Sheila Vand’s dark and rebellious magnetism travels with her on and offscreen. Vand made her big film debut in Ben Affleck’s ARGO, and 2 years later she starred in the award-winning Iranian Vampire Western, A GIRL WALKS ALONE AT NIGHT. It was a starring role that was written specifically for her. Since then, she’s been unstoppable. Vand went on to co-star opposite of Tina Fey and Margot Robbie in Paramount’s WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT. Now Vand is set to star in the Fox reboot 24: LEGACY, a reboot of the iconic 24 series for a new generation.

However, it’s not just Sheila Vand’s track record that makes her unique but rather her taste for artistically provocative pieces that push her, and others, outside their comfort zone. Aside from acting, Sheila has done several conceptual pieces that have made a splash in the art world. Zand’s dark performance piece, SNEAKY NIETZSCHE, was mounted at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Her most recent piece is the award winning MILK: whatwillyoumakeofme? a collaboration with visual artist Alexa Meade that explores the fluidity of form. Zand’s zest for challenging pieces feeds directly into her desire to work with out-of-the-box filmmakers.

Who would you like to work with in the future?

There are a lot of brilliant filmmakers and actors I’d love to work with. Jesus. I mean, so many. Lars Von Trier, Leos Carax, Carlos Reygadas, Jonathan Glazer, Damián Szifron, David Lynch, you know—I like the abstract, funny, weird, dark stuff.

When did you first discover your passion for acting?

I guess I was always telling stories and performing as a kid. Then when I was in the fifth grade, I played Ethan Allen in a reenactment of the American Revolution and I got really into it. We performed it at an assembly for the whole school and the meanest, scariest teacher wrote my mom a letter saying that I had to pursue acting. Hah. I guess I really moved her. It was probably my best work!

Who are some of your favorite actresses that inspire you?

Lately I’ve become obsessed with Zoë Lund and Béatrice Dalle. They’re both beautiful and dark and they never played by the rules of Hollywood. There are so many actresses that inspire me—Isabelle Adjani, young Sissy Spacek, Anjelica Huston, Bette Davis, Louise Brooks, Tilda Swinton, Cate Blanchett, the list is really long. There are a lot of fearless actresses out there and it’s not easy for women in this business, so I’m amazed by all of them for putting up with so much bullshit.

Who do you dream of playing?

I dream more about the people I want to work with rather than the roles I want to play. I don’t have one specific dream role, but I love playing characters that are a little broken in some way. Characters with a lot of layers are obviously the most fun because it gives you so much to play with. I’d also love to play a really volatile character, or someone who is losing their mind. You can get so much more theatrical with a character who is unhinged, and that kind of acting is so much more exciting for me than naturalistic, whispery robot acting.

What among your upcoming projects is most exciting? 

I have a few I’m excited for! I’m in a comedy noir called WOMEN WHO KILL, which just won Best Screenplay at Tribeca [Film Festival], a psychological drama called AARDVARK that stars Jenny Slate, Zachary Quinto, and Jon Hamm, and an exploitation genre movie called 68 KILL that I just wrapped in New Orleans. My roles in each movie are extremely different from one another so that’ll be interesting.

Text by Zee Chang
Photograph by Darian Zahedi

Styling by Jardine Hammond
Hair by Michael Quinn
Makeup by Tsipporah using MAC Cosmetics
Art Direction by Hala Matar

Objects Without Meaning dress
Bonnie Cashin for Russ Taylor coat
Nikki Montoya jewelry