Thursday, September 1, 2011

{alltv} Role makes sense for 'Alphas' star

Napster, LLC 

These are the dog days for Azita Ghanizada's character on Alphas.

"Oh, I'm Scooby-Doo," said Ghanizada, with comedic incredulity. "I am legitimately Scooby-Doo.

"But it's pretty cool. Who gets to say they were Scooby-Doo? Not a lot of people."

Ghanizada's character actually is named Rachel, not Scooby-Doo. But the subject of Scooby-Doo came up because of Rachel's, um, abilities and deployment on Alphas.

The Toronto-shot Alphas originates on Syfy in the United States and currently is airing its first season on Space in Canada (the next new episode on both sides of the border is scheduled for Sept. 12).

The series, which features Academy Award-nominated actor David Strathairn in the lead role, focuses on a group of people with superhuman abilities, known as Alphas, as they attempt to prevent other Alphas from committing crimes.


Rachel's Alpha ability is super-senses. That's why she often gets treated like a damn tracking dog.

"Oh, I know, poor Rachel," Ghanizada said with a big laugh. "She never catches a break, she always gets played, she always has to smell everything.

"The thing is, I really like that I get to play this oddity. In my real life I'm a confident person, and to be somebody who is so opposite to that, so unique and different, it makes me proud that I can do it and accomplish it.

"And it's kind of cool to behave like a bloodhound, and super-see, and tap into those extreme senses and play with that physically. You have to make it real somehow, because who really can do that?"

In terms of the camera lens, though, there is a down-side to playing someone with super-senses.

"They literally have shot every angle of my face in extreme closeup," Ghanizada said. "It's always, 'Here's the smell-o-vision shot.' It's sometimes devastating to watch on camera.

"You try not to be vain, but after a while I was like, 'Can you guys please be nice to me?' Rachel gets beat up, kidnapped, and then they shoot my nostril in a wide camera angle.

"When does Rachel get to be pretty? Never!"

Ghanizada was born in Afghanistan and came to the United States with her refugee family when she was very young. She said the experience made her a precocious youth, but also achingly aware of people's prejudices.

"As a young person I stood up for my parents a lot, I spoke English for them a lot," Ghanizada recalled. "It made me very aware of how the world can be cruel, and that made me see the world not in a peaceful, joyful, childlike way. It made me grow up very fast.

"But it also made me a smart, outspoken young person. I wanted to learn more and I wanted to understand the world and other people. I'm fascinated by people's stories.

"Maybe that's why I like to tell stories as an actor. It's why I always was going to be an actor, no matter who told me no. It definitely shaped me into who I am today, and I'm OK with that."

Hey, if Azita Ghanizada is self-assured enough to accept the unflattering closeup camera shots that come with being the Scooby-Doo of Alphas, then obviously everything has turned out OK.

"There's no hiding from the camera for Rachel, no disappearing," Ghanizada said. "At least I have pretty ears, thank goodness for that."

Ghanizada: Canadians love jaywalking

Are Canadians more aggressive walkers than drivers?

That's the opinion of Azita Ghanizada, who plays Rachel in the Toronto-shot series Alphas.

Ghanizada, who was born in Afghanistan and grew up in the United States, was on the phone from Los Angeles when she mentioned she was in her car, parked on a side-street.

"I'm not going to drive while I'm talking to you, because everybody in L.A. drives like an a------," Ghanizada said. "And I was just in Canada (taping Alphas) for four months, not driving, so I'm being super-conscientious."

But there also are plenty of a------ drivers in Canada, aren't there?

"No, it's the pedestrians in Canada!" Ghanizada said. "They just kind of run right out into the street, right?

"I was like, 'What's wrong with these people?' Just out of nowhere, it's really funny. That's you guys (Canadians). They just keep on going. They don't care."

So you're saying Canadian pedestrians just aren't scared enough of moving vehicles?

"No, you're not," Ghanizada said with a chuckle. "You're not scared at all."

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