Narges Rashidi

From War in Real Life to War On-screen


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The film, Under The Shadow, begins with a woman shrouded in a black hijab with a dark, intense gaze. The camera hones in on her expression riddled with sadness and frustration, which elicits immediate empathy for her before we even learn her name. Her magnetism on-screen is mesmerizing. It’s a tribute to the actress that we’re already on her side and she hasn’t even spoken a single word yet. The actress is Narges Rashidi, already named at Sundance as a standout break-through performer and capable of giving one look that speaks a thousand words.

Rashidi stars in the unconventional wartime thriller Under The Shadow, which is set to premiere in October and is wracked with symbolism about fear and oppression. The film takes place in post-Islamic Revolution Tehran, Iran—Rashidi’s birthplace in real life. And that’s not the only overlap she personally has with the film. Before she moved out of Tehran, Rashidi remembers being around the same age as the girl who plays her daughter “Dorsa” (Avin Manshadi) as she witnessed the crossfire between Iran and Iraq. Rashidi eventually moved to Turkey, then on to Germany where she began her pursuits in acting, but those experiences as a young girl played into her current role in the film.

So you left Iran when you were very young, but are there any things you drew from that personal experience when playing Shideh in Under the Shadow?

Yes, because Iran and Iraq were at war during that time I was there. So I was kind of like the little girl who played my daughter in the film. I remember my mom taking us down to the basement and turning on the music really loudly so we wouldn’t hear the bombs. Then I remember one day when we were actually upstairs—we weren’t in the cellar yet. I was sleeping on my mom’s lap and I woke up because I heard the explosions. And I asked, “Mom, what happened?” and she was like “Nothing, it was just bombs.” It was so normal after awhile with so many bombs coming in all the time. It wasn’t even special anymore. That’s a memory that stuck with me.

When did you first discover your interest in acting?

When I was nine years old, I’d pretend to cry in front of my mom. She would ask me, “What’s wrong?” Then I would laugh and say “I just wanted to know that you cared!” When I grew up in Germany, I lived in a small town called Bad Hersfeld. Nothing really happens, but it has this beautiful amphitheater in the summer. So every time the actors would come in and rehearse, it was such a big deal for that little town. I’d go up there and talk to the actors. It was so exciting for me and I was immediately drawn to it. That’s where it all began for me.

What was your experience like shooting Under the Shadow?

I really enjoyed every second of shooting that. We only had twenty-one days to shoot a lot of scenes so there wasn’t a lot of time to think. You just had to go with your gut. All in all, it was a very young team. That was special because there were so many people who were so passionate about making a great movie. We didn’t have a big budget, so whomever was in this project did it because they wanted to be there.

Do you have a dream role?

I get asked this question and I can’t answer it. It would really depend on the script and the story. Let’s put it that way, I want stories that have something to say and portray a specific theme in real life that isn’t portrayed often. Stories that people can take home with them and maybe it will change their opinion about certain things. Stories that can make an impact.


Text by Zee Chang
Photography BY André Paul Pinces

Styling by Jessica Margolis
Hair by Richard Collins
Make-up by Kristina Brown
Post Production by Cake Imagery