Today sees the premiere of Natasha Kermani’s sci-fi drama IMITATION GIRL. In preparation for the premiere, Shannon spoke with actor Neimah Djourabchi about his new role, why he was wearing such odd casts on his arms, and his work as a stunt man.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Hi Neimah, thank you so much for speaking with us today about IMITATION GIRL. To start things off can you tell us a little bit about your character and how he relates to Imitation Girl?
Neimah Djourabchi: I play the bartender who is a bit surprised by the Imitation Girl one evening when she pops into his shop. Not knowing what else to do he kind of lets her follow him around for awhile and tries to take care of her as best as he can.
NC: Your character in the film speaks English and Farsi. Prior to filming did you know how to speak Farsi?
ND: Oh yeah totally! I was sort of raised bilingually. My parents would speak English and Farsi pretty interchangeably when I was a little kid. When it got to middle childhood it became English predominantly but I needed to keep the Farsi up in order to speak to my aunts, uncles, and grandparents. When I became an actor it became a practical skill at that point.
NC: What inspired you to want to take on this role and were there any challenges you faced?
ND: I had known Natasha Kermani off and on for a really long time. We met right after I graduated from college and she was still a student. I hadn’t really seen her in a long time and I had all these friends who would keep working on all these different projects that she would be producing and directing. They would all come back to me and be like “You have got to meet this Persian director, her name is Natasha and she is awesome!” and I would say, “I think I met her!” I ended up crashing her company’s holiday party and found out about this movie they were making and as soon as I found out she wanted to make it and had a guy my age who spoke Farsi I was like dude, I gotta get that part (laughs). I kind of just planted the ear worm a little bit and then I taped an audition for her. When my audition tape popped up she said she wanted to work with me and I knew it was a good thing.
In terms of challenges we definitely faced a lot. Every time we were in the home stretch and we thought things were going to be easy, something crazy would happen. I don’t know if you noticed my character had casts on his hands…
NC: I did notice that and I was going to ask about it! I wasn’t sure if they were symbolic for something.
ND: Well, not to let too much of the cat out of the bag, Natasha had scripted a couple scenes where I would be riding a motorcycle and she was going to have Imitation on the back. Well, I thought to myself, I used to ride dirt bikes as a kid so it’s not a big deal, let me just go get my license as a formality so that everything is taken care of. A week before principal photography in New Mexico, I got in a wreck on the motorcycle during my motorcycle class (laughs). Here I am in the emergency room thinking “oh my God, I’m going to get fired from this movie.” Natasha was great, she was like you know what, this happened for a reason, we are going to make the best of it and we are going to roll from here. In the end, the casts kind of worked for my character.
NC: Throughout the films duration the audience is presented with a lot of heavy themes. Is there a takeaway you would like audiences to get from the film?
ND: I don’t know, I mean certainly for my character it’s an exercise in compassion. That’s the lesson I would wish everyone world over would learn a little bit more of (laughs).
NC: You’ve done everything from acting to stunt work, is there one medium you like the most? What is it like going from stunt work to acting?
ND: They are not as dissimilar as they might seem – they are kind of both sides of the same coin. I would say that as a stunt man sometimes the jobs are more fun because you are a day player who just shows up and works for a day in a chaotic environment. You don’t have to get entrenched in the day to day work drudgery most of the people on set, or anyone that goes tot he same job everyday, has to deal with. So that aspect can be really nice. Being a stunt man makes you really feel like you are part of a community. Stunt performers are really supportive and it’s like a big family. You really don’t get that feeling when you’re an actor, actors tends to have a little bit more of a competitive edge to them. Stunt performers may be getting punched in the face one day and the next day they may be holding the rope that makes it so you don’t fall to the ground (laughs). In terms of pure, pure joy, the thing that I think caps all of it is playing music. I’ve been in bands for a long time now and we always play to nobody but it’s always such a great time and it’s an exercise in pure joy.
NC: Last, but certainly not least, what can we look forward to from you in the future?
ND: I’m taping a podcast with a group called Gideon Media that’s getting published by Macmillan Publishing and Tor Labs called STEAL THE STARS. It’s a 14 episode series – think Area 51 with mystery and scifi – and it’s going to be super cool. I believe that starts in August so I would definitely say keep your ears peeled for that!
IMITATION GIRL will premiere at Dances With Films on June 6 at 7:15pm. For more information visit https://danceswithfilms.com/imitation-girl/.