‘Tehran’ Star Niv Sultan On Her Breakout Role In Apple’s Spy Thriller & Coping With Covid Protocols

‘Tehran’ Star Niv Sultan On Her Breakout Role In Apple’s Spy Thriller & Coping With Covid Protocols
As the final episode of Tehran is dropped on Apple TV+ today, Deadline caught up with the espionage thriller’s breakout Israeli star Niv Sultan on the role that has turned heads in Hollywood.

Sultan plays Tamar Rabinyan, a Mossad computer hacker-agent who is tasked with disabling an Iranian nuclear reactor on her very first mission in Tehran, which is also her place of birth. Iron Man actor Shaun Toub and Homeland‘s Navid Negahban co-star.

The nine-part series, created by Moshe Zonder, who wrote Netflix’s Fauda, has been well received by critics and has been played out over a number of weeks by Apple following its launch on Kan 11 in Israel.

Jerusalem-born Sultan always wanted to be an actress but said that the global attention from the Apple deal was unexpected after she has spent much of her career working on shows in her home nation. “I’ve never had a Hollywood dream,” she told us. Now, Sultan has signed with WME in an agreement that could open doors stateside.

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For now though, she is still working on unannounced projects in Israel and coming to terms with the new reality of coronavirus safety protocols. “Things are just starting to feel (almost) normal again,” she said.

Scroll on for the full interview.

Deadline: So, the final episode of Tehran is upon us, what can we expect from the conclusion of this thrilling drama?

Sultan: Expect the unexpected. So many twists and turns. When I first saw it I was so surprised, as if it wasn’t me on the screen. And that’s it. Go see it yourself because words really can’t describe.

Deadline: What attracted you to the role of Tamar and how did you secure the part?

Sultan: First of all, I loved the fact that she is a Mossad agent, an excellent hacker, and truly a badass. She is a very strong woman, physically and emotionally. She carries so much in her. Layers, colors, feelings.

I fell in love with her and with her fascinating journey from the first moment. I mostly loved the fact that she is a real person. Not another cliche of a Mossad agent saving the world. A young vulnerable woman who gives herself the opportunity to go through this amazing journey in the most authentic way.

Deadline: What has Apple’s involvement meant for the series?

Sultan: Apple TV is such an incredible platform for this show. I have to admit, I couldn’t have imagined this would happen. I feel this show is really worthy of the exposure. Thanks to Apple TV so many audiences around the world will get to know this special story and get to connect with those amazing characters. As an actor, you want to tell a story and you want it to be a story that makes an impact. This gave us a huge opportunity to influence on so many people.

Deadline: Tehran creator Moshe Zonder has signed an exclusive deal with Apple — can we expect more Tehran as part of that?

Sultan: I don’t know much more than you guys, all I can say is that I really hope so and cross my fingers for that because I’m really not ready to say goodbye.

Deadline: The show has catapulted you into the global spotlight after your work in Israel — was that always the ambition for you? How are you adapting to the increased attention?

Sultan: I dreamt of being an actress ever since I was a child. But I’ve never had a Hollywood dream. Maybe because it was too good to imagine. Too big and too impossible.  I was born in a very small neighborhood in Jerusalem, so who thought it could happen?

But I really believe that things don’t happen without a reason. Tehran and Tamar came into my life and opened me to this amazing opportunity to work abroad and to take part in international productions.

Tehran
Niv Sultan in ‘Tehran’
Appletv+

Deadline: Has it been odd launching a show in the middle of a global pandemic? How have you spent this year?

Sultan: Well, I guess odd is a very small word for that crazy experience. I get to see so many strangers’ livingrooms via zoom these days. Obviously, if Covid didn’t happen right now we would have been sitting together somewhere else but it is what it is and we are trying to make the best out of it.

I’m trying to be focused on the positive sides first, so many people are spending much more time at home and are eager to find new shows, so it’s probably good timing to take part in something new. And second, doing all of these junket interviews from my kitchen isn’t all bad! I’m in my safe zone here; I can eat my favorite food and wear some lower-body pajamas, which really takes the stress off.

Deadline: Has there ever been a better time for young actors to make their name amid the explosion in global content?

Sultan: I think it’s really great that more international shows are being viewed worldwide and that great stories are being exposed to a worldwide audience. I am also very thankful for this opportunity and don’t take it for granted. And most importantly, it’s such great timing for all voices to be heard, in different colors, shapes, and tones.

Deadline: What’s the next project you have lined up?

Sultan: I just wrapped a series and I am shooting another. Going back to work after this lockdown is more than exciting.

Deadline: I know you can’t say more about these Israeli projects, but what has it been like working in a new normal with Covid safety protocols? Has it been creatively inhibiting, or actually ok?

Sultan: This is our new reality for now, so everyone is doing their best to adjust. It’s a completely new and weird situation. Wearing masks and fever tests every morning have become a part of everyone’s daily routine. Most of all we are all very happy and grateful to be working again. Things are just starting to feel (almost) normal again.

Deadline: You have signed with WME – what are you hoping that will help you achieve?

Sultan: I am very excited about working with them. For me, the most important thing is to keep on working and creating new fascinating roles and characters. I really hope to continue finding challenging and inspiring roles with great actors and directors and to tell incredible stories.

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