Tehran Interview: Stars Niv Sultan And Shervin Alenabi On The Shocking Twists And Turns Of The Series

The Illuminerdi sits down with Tehran stars Niv Sultan and Shervin Alenabi to talk about the shocking twists and turns the series is full of as well as their characters.
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Tehran follows young Mossad agent and hacker, Tamar Rabinyan (Niv Sultan), sent on her first mission in Tehran, Iran under a false identity to destroy Iran’s nuclear reactor. However, her mission fails and Tamar is forced to hide within the city while trying to salvage the mission. The series is full of twists and turns that will have audiences on the edge of their seat trying to guess what will happen next.

Tehran premiered on Jan 11, an Israeli public broadcasting station in June, but before the premiere, Apple acquired the international rights to the series and is the exclusive streaming platform for Tehran internationally. Tehran is Apple TV+’s first international series with the language switching between Farsi, Hebrew, and English, throughout the show with English subtitles on Apple TV+. Tehran premiered on Apple TV+ on September 25 and the full season is now available on Apple TV+.

Tehran stars Niv Sultan as Tamar Rabinyan, Shaun Toub as Faraz Kamali, Navid Negahban as Masoud Tabrizi, Menashi Noy as Meir Gorev, Shervin Alenabi as Milad Kahani, Liraz Charhi as Yael Kadosh, and Shila Ommi as Naahid. Tehran is created by Moshe Zonder (Fauda), Dana Eden, and Maor Kohn. Tehran is co-created and directed by Daniel Syrkin. Zonder serves as writer alongside series co-creator Omri Shenhar.


The Illuminerdi’s Caitlin Tyrrell was able to speak with two of the stars of Tehran, Niv Sultan who plays Tamar Rabinyan and Shervin Alenabi who plays Milad Kahani, a young anti-regime hacker and Tamar’s love interest on the series. The actors spoke about the twists and turns of the series, what drew them to their characters, and what it has been like now that Tehran is on Apple TV+.

The Illuminerdi: What has it been like being able to share this story with a worldwide audience?

Niv Sultan:  Crazy I guess, you know, when we just got. When we just shot it. We did felt like part of something great and special and unique, but we couldn’t imagine it happen and these days the fact that our story and our characters is in so many countries and so many audiences, uh, it’s amazing it’s just amazing.

Shervin Alenabi: Absolutely same for me. To be getting messages and sort of like the same responses from people all the way in Malaysia to America to Brazil it is a really, really good thing to see um yeah.

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The Illuminerdi:  Can you tell me a little bit about the connection between your two characters?

Shervin Alenabi: It’s an interesting one. It’s a … and complex one yeah. It starts out as a you know a healthy crush and you know and uh obviously they have to do something for each other uh, but a healthy crush very quickly develops into something a bit more, a bit more mysterious I’d say. And yeah it was a super, super complex and layered thing um that was really exciting for the actor to work on.

The Illuminerdi: It was very fun to watch it was very hard to figure out where you two stood all the time so that was a very cool aspect of it I loved all the twists and turns especially in episode six when Tamar really like her cover gets blown so I was wondering if you guys had kind of a favorite twist or turn during the season?

Niv Sultan: That one. That one

Shervin Alenabi: That was it.

Niv Sultan: Yeah that was it.

Shervin Alenabi: That was it. That was it.

Niv Sultan: Yeah that’s our favorite. Yeah.

Shervin Alenabi: Cause it starts out so nicely as well like everything is going well they’ve just partied together. They had a really good time the, connection is there. I give her a gift and then boom everything just like gets blown to pieces, you know, the illusion is gone.

Niv Sultan: Yeah. Suddenly gone and everything and Mohamad and Karim and huge mess.

Shervin Alenabi: It’s a huge mess yeah.

Niv Sultan: Yeah and this scene took place at night we shot it from I think 1am to I think 4am something like that and it was crazy and we all was really intense and into it.

Shervin Alenabi:  yeah exactly, exactly.

The Illuminerdi: Yeah, not the best ending to a date.

Niv Sultan: Nope absolutely not.

Shervin Alenabi: Worst ending to a date you can possibly imagine.

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The Illuminerdi: Were you surprised by a lot of the twists when you read them or did you kind of know going in it was going to be as intense as it was?

Niv Sultan: No, I was really surprised. Really surprised.

Shervin Alenabi: I was really surprised. Yeah.

Niv Sultan: When I first realized Kadosh is a double agent I was like What?!?

Shervin Alenabi: Exactly yeah it was just, it was like more twists and surprises on a daily basis. Yeah, yeah.

Niv Sultan: yeah absolutely.

The Illuminerdi: One of the things I really enjoyed was you just you never knew what was coming and a lot of the twists were things that I would expect to be the cliffhanger for an episode, but instead it’s like no there’s still thirty minutes.

Niv Sultan: Perfect.

Shervin Alenabi: Which is what’s great about it yeah. Keeps you on the edge of your seat

The Illuminerdi: So what kind of drew you to these characters specifically because they’re both so layered and interesting in different ways and not necessarily what you’d expect in this kind of series?

Niv Sultan: Yeah so for me it was the fact that she’s everything at the same time. She is a Mossad agent, she is tough, she is super responsible and badass, but at the same time she’s a young woman, going undercover in enemy lines, she’s insecure, she makes mistakes, she misses her dad, she falls in love and her vulnerability with her braveness together I love the fact that she carries so many colors and layers in her.

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Shervin Alenabi: Absolutely. I agree. For me the same as well the one thing was, uh, you know most of my scenes are with Niv and and their relationship really drew me to the character as well because they go through such ups and downs and um to navigate that and um to try and keep the peace between the commune and his friends and um that that was really really uh fun to work on.

The Illuminerdi: It was not characters I’ve necessarily seen before because usually in this kind of series the lead is a man and very experienced so it was interesting to see someone really on their first mission and have to adapt to every situation because this is a series where if something can go wrong it does.

Niv Sultan: My mom told me when watching the series, my Mom told me ‘she’s not the perfect Mossad agent huh?’ I was like yeah.

The Illuminerdi: Definitely, I actually liked that. I appreciated that. I thought it made her more human.

Niv Sultan: Me too! Me too, me too, me too. Absolutely.

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The Illuminerdi:  So she has obviously a lot of skills as a Mossad agent, but to a degree she also has to be an actor with like the highest stakes pressure, so what was it like bringing that personal experience of being an actor into this role.

Niv Sultan: Well, I mean that was super helpful and the only thing I could take because I suck at technology I couldn’t be hacker, I couldn’t be Mossad agent, the only thing I have is me being an actress so.

The Illuminerdi: That helps.

Niv Sultan: Yeah it is.

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The Illuminerdi: It was such a cool series and it’s not one I would have really seen otherwise so I really appreciated that it was on Apple TV+. If there’s a season 2, what would you want to see happen next?

Niv Sultan: I don’t know. I don’t know. That’s the most difficult question I guess.

Shervin Alenabi: I think I want more missions. Milad and Tamar just become some sort of Bonnie and Clyde situation that would be really exciting hopefully the bike is still there.

The Illuminerdi:  Very nice, very nice. It was great talking to both of you. Thank you so much for your time and again just fantastic, fantastic series.

Niv Sultan: Thank you so much. Thank you.

Shervin Alenabi: Thank you, Caitlin.

All eight episodes of Tehran are now available on Apple TV+.



Picture of Caitlin Tyrrell

Caitlin Tyrrell

Features Manager & Producer with The Illuminerdi. Caitlin has a deep love for storytelling of every kind. She is a huge fan of television, animation, and film, but Star Wars, the MCU, and Critical Role hold a special place in her heart.