Sheila Vand’s been mighty busy in the industry for a number of years now, but she’s having quite the 2020 with the release of Dave Franco’s feature directorial debut, The Rental, and also the big premiere of the Snowpiercer series on TNT, both of which are available to watch right now. I’ve got all the faith in the world that Vand will keep working her way up and up in the industry, but you know what we do here on Collider Ladies Night; we’ve got to look back and cover the milestones that lead to her latest accomplishments, and that includes a role in Ben Affleck‘s 2013 Best Picture winner, Argo.
At the time, Vand was still pretty new to the feature film realm and there she was working with one of the biggest names out there. One would imagine, that’s got to be pretty nerve-racking, but Vand stressed the warm and safe environment Affleck created on set:
“Ben Affleck was so generous with his energy and he’s a very down to earth person. I was really nervous! This was my first major motion picture. I love saying that. [Laughs] And it was a heavy-hitting cast with John Goodman and all these cool people, and I just felt like this rookie, and he just disarms you right away. He created such a safe, warm feeling place that I actually genuinely felt like I could do good work because I wasn’t so intimidated. I don’t work well with more kind of tyrannical filmmakers. He’s not like that at all. And I don’t know if it’s because he’s an actor himself; he seemed to really respect our process and he wanted things to feel natural for us, he wanted us to feel comfortable. And he just, in general, just has such a warm and friendly energy that he doesn’t come off as this guarded, ‘I’m a celebrity, I’m untouchable’ at all.”
That’s an important quality for any leader of a cast and crew to have, especially when you consider the time, passion and energy required to churn out a feature film. But, Affleck’s leadership also made a huge impression on Vand on a personal level. Here’s how she put it:
“It was an environment where I felt like everyone got to shine a bit even though it was a big ensemble piece. He was so supportive. It was really, really nice. In a situation like that, being one of the only Iranian actors in this movie and having a smaller supporting part, I can’t tell you how often I have been overlooked and mistaken for an extra even when I’m high up on the call sheet or a principle actor. Not that there’s anything wrong with being an extra. I’m just saying, ‘Come on, I’ve been here every day. You’ve been seeing me! Am I that invisible to you?’ But it wasn’t like that on Argo at all. Ben Affleck always made me feel like I was an important part of the story. And even in the way that he had me come in and do the voiceover for the beginning of the film, and he also added a scene to the end of the film where you see my character escaping Iran because they had shown it to a few test audiences who actually wanted to know what happened with my character, which was really great, but also he made that choice as the director that that was important to him too, and he wanted to add that. I felt really seen by him. He just included me in that group in a way that I don’t think I normally necessarily would have been included.”
Do you want to hear even more from Vand? Of course you do! Not only did we dig into the details of her time working on Snowpiercer and The Rental, but she spoke about pouring everything she had into the experimental performance experience, Sneaky Nietzsche, what it was like working with Robin Williams on Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, and so much more! Keep an eye out for the full conversation coming to Collider soon.