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Shohreh Aghdashloo On the 'SVU' Streak

Great video interview with Shohreh Aghdashloo courtesy of Gold Derby, who is the one to watch in this year's Guest Actress in a Drama Series category, thanks to her clever turn on "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit." As this piece points out, the last four winners in the category--Leslie Caron, Cynthia Nixon, Ellen Burstyn and Ann-Margaret--all won for roles on "SVU." The episode Aghdashloo starred in, "Dirty," found her playing a tough, no-nonsense detective named Sunny Qadri who teams up with and shares more than a little in common with Mariska Hargitay's Det. Olivia Benson. It's a great episode, penned by producer Judy McCreary, with plenty of great twists and turns that I won't spoil here.

I had the good fortune to moderate a Q&A following a screening of the episode on May 23, with the wonderful, warm crew from SAG Foundation hosting. Aghdashloo revealed the role of Sunny was written specifically for her, an occurrence she noted is "always an honor." She loved working with Hargitay, and the two have such an easy chemistry I found myself joking that if Chris Meloni ever wanted to leave the show, Sunny would make a great new partner. (Joke's on me--two days later, Meloni announced he wasn't returning to "SVU.")

Aghdashloo already has one Emmy, thanks to her fantastic turn in the 2008 HBO miniseries "House of Saddaam," in which she played Hussein's wife, Sajida. She revealed that a friend of hers who knew Sajida was able to ask the widow if she had seen the movie and what she thought. According to her friend, Sajida approved of Aghdashloo's portrayal because she "played her with class."

"Class" is a word that comes quickly when talking about Aghdashloo, who brings gravitas to every role. If you aren't already familiar with the amazing story of how she left a thriving acting career in her native Iran and eventually came to America, you can check out this article I wrote way back in 2003 when she was first earning raves for her Oscar-nominated turn in "The House of Sand and Fog." The story opens with another prediction on my part: "You may not have heard of Shohreh Aghdashloo before, but awards presenters would be wise to start practicing their pronunciation of the striking actor's name immediately." Of course, anyone could have seen that was a prediction destined to come true.

--Jenelle Riley

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