January 30, 2004
The Untitled Onion Movie
OK, this might be an odd entry, because although the Onion Movie is the most important professional step I have taken thus far, I signed a non-disclosure agreement, so I can't be real specific about it. But we'll give it a go.
If you've never heard of The Onion, it's a very funny and irreverent satirical weekly paper. See theonion.com and you'll get the point. I think it's brilliant. It's intelligent without being heady, and it's silly without being dominated by potty humor. (I'm really proud that I got to use the word potty in my journal, BTW). I'm happy to report that the script was written by a couple of the writers from the Onion -- it's not like they passed it off to a couple Hollywood douchenozzles who watered it down and made it lame. It's really really funny and biting.
So what's my part? OK, let's get it out. I play a [EDITED BY ONION CENSORS]. I don't think that's giving away much. You've got a political satire, you've got a middle eastern actor, it's kind of a no-brainer. So add it up, and this past year, I've pretty much played nothing onscreen but [EDITED BY ONION CENSORS] and gay guys. The first one I understand, but someone explain the second one, please. No, actually, don't.
I tried out last July for the movie, but for whatever reason, they weren't feeling me. Maybe they didn't think I was [EDITED BY ONION CENSORS] enough. I dunno. Then in November, my guardian angel Navid (seriously -- he's amazing) was trying out, and he gave them this picture and told them they oughta take another look at me. I guess they were desperate, so they brought me in for another audition, and I pretty much shocked it. All the guys who went in before me were taking a while, getting adjustments and what-not, but when I went, I did it once, and the casting director Kim was so pleased she didn't want to change a thing.
For the callback I actually went to the directors' trailer onset, as the movie was already in production. I came in looking like this, just so they knew what a crazy mf I was. I had a good time at the callback, and I guess they did too!
I got to work with some really great people, including my friend Sarah McElligott, who I worked with on Luckiest Man, and Ahmed Ahmed, from MTV's Punk'd. He's pretty much the funniest Arab in town (I can say that, bc I'm not Arab -- I'm Persian! Get it straight!). Sarah plays a sexy [EDITED BY ONION CENSORS]-type character, and when I saw her in her [EDITED BY ONION CENSORS], I was like "Cha-ching! God bless America!". Ahmed plays my brother, and he gave me a lot of cool brotherly advice off-screen as well.
The directors Mike Maguire and Tom Kuntz were awesome. It was their first feature, although they have a lot of commercial experience. They really gave everyone a lot of room to invent and have fun, and the mood onset was totally relaxed, even when big stars like [EDITED BY ONION CENSORS] were on set. It was just such an experience to be working with THE [EDITED BY ONION CENSORS].
And then there was the day that [EDITED BY ONION CENSORS] was there. I've never seen people go so ga-ga over someone. It was fantastic. I mean, he's not as busy as he used to be, but he's a legend! What was so impressive was that even though he's 83, as soon as they said 'action', he rocked the house! We were dying. Unfortunately, we never got a chance to hear his famous catch-phrase, "[EDITED BY ONION CENSORS]!"
I really couldn't have asked for a more complete experience. I got to have [EDITED BY ONION CENSORS] good scene(s), I had *great* food, I got to wear lots of fun [EDITED BY ONION CENSORS] (including one that actually vibrated!), the producers and directors were totally approachable and friendly (several even bought some of my Tshirts!), I had a personal stand-in and a cute little mini-Amir, and the whole cast and crew was nice as heck. At the end of the movie, there's a scene where everyone (even a bunch of crewmembers) [EDITED BY ONION CENSORS], and it was a big ol' bonding experience, almost like an early wrap-party. My brother Omid visited the set that day, and they even threw him in as an extra. Altogether, it was definitely the most fun I've ever had on a shoot.
The movie is expected to come out this year, but there are a million determining factors, so it could come out anytime between summer and end of the year. But it's produced by Fox Searchlight, so it's gonna be in theaters everywhere. Just stay tuned. It's killing me that we have to wait MONTHS to see it on the big screen!!!
Oct 2004 update: the movie has been pushed to 2005. Stay Tuned