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Glenn Close thrilled by tension of spy role in 'Tehran'

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Glenn Close thrilled by tension of spy role in 'Tehran'
Glenn Close will be seen in Season 2 of "Tehran," starting Friday. Photo courtesy of Apple TV+

NEW YORK, May 6 (UPI) -- Emmy- and Tony-winning actress Glenn Close says she joined Season 2 of Tehran -- debuting Friday on Apple TV+ -- because the Israeli international espionage thriller offered her a variety of new experiences.

"For me, it was so many firsts. It was a character like I had never played before, having to learn Farsi like I never had before, shooting in Athens with a multilingual cast," Close said in a recent Zoom roundtable interview with reporters.

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"It was kind of a no-brainer for me," she added. "When I read it, when I saw the first season, I thought, 'This is something I want to be part of.'"

Close plays Marjan Montazeri, an agent undercover as a psychiatrist who helps Mossad computer hacker-agent Tamar Rabinyan (Niv Sultan) deal with the fallout from her failed mission to destroy Iran's nuclear reactor.

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Sultan said she was surprised to see what a global hit one of her first professional acting jobs became after it was picked up by Apple TV+

"It was a great opportunity and an amazing platform to tell the story and to portray this amazing character," she said.

"When I sit in my place in Tel Aviv and I get love messages from Iranian people, I realize what we are doing here is bigger than another TV show or another step in my career. It feels important. So, I am grateful."

The actresses hope the series opens hearts and minds by making people relate to and care about characters embroiled in the Israel-Iran conflict.

"Conflicts are everywhere," Sultan said. "It doesn't matter where you come from or where you live. At the end of the day, it is an interesting and important thing to see that we are all the same. Everyone struggles the same, everyone suffers the same and, in wars, everyone loses."

Close said learning the history of Iran, learning Farsi and her character's costume gave her a new insight into another country and culture.

"That, I think, is one of the great things that an international show can bring to a global audience is insight into people other than ourselves," she said.

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The nature of the spies' jobs means they are always in danger and that made for an extreme acting experience for Sultan and Close.

"Shooting was really intense. Every scene was really intense. I can't remember even one scene where I came on set and thought, 'OK, that's an easy one.' The tension was very, very high and I was far from home. I wasn't in Israel," Sultan said.

"It was a set full of cultures and languages and mentalities, so it really helped me [understand] how it is to be an agent far from home, being a foreigner. The tension really helped with the danger. We weren't feeling dangerous during shooting, but we did feel tense in a way."

Close said she thought a lot about Paradise Road, a 1997 movie she made about the evacuation of Singapore during World War II, while she prepared for her role in Tehran.

"The women didn't get hysterical. The women got very quiet, very calm and did what had to be done -- protect their children -- and I think the mindset of a good agent has that ability to find calm," Close said.

"They can control their fight-or-flight or freeze reflex. It's learned, I think, part of it, but I also think a lot of it is natural, if you have the potential."

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Along with the danger, power and corruption it depicts, Tehran portrays people willing to risk their safety to improve matters.

"People are so passionate about what they represent and what they think is right and good and I think it can be inspiring to see people are willing to literally give their lives for something they feel is right," Close said.

Close said the ultimate goal is to make a better world.

Sultan added, "Also, maybe being able to understand that we are all the same. Maybe that gives hope."

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