Spy thrillers are a popular tv genre, but one about a female Israeli Mossad agent? That’s almost unheard of. Tehran (its second season on Apple TV+ premieres May 6) is the rare example. Niv Sultan stars as Tamar Rabinyan, a young Iranian-born Mossad agent tasked with deactivating an Iranian nuclear reactor. “When I got the audition and read it out loud, I was thinking this character has to be mine. She is truly a gift,” she says. Part of Sultan’s initial response was to how different Tamar’s character is: “She is so complex and has so many layers. It’s not like the regular Mossad agent. She is a real person. Sensitive but at the same time has her own opinion. She has chutzpah.” While filming the first season she had no idea it would be a success. “We didn’t know if people would love it or not,” she says. “The fact that so many people around the world loved it, got the story and felt close to the characters, it’s amazing.” For Sultan, the positive international response is the most rewarding. She notes, “At the end of the day, that’s what you want as an actor.”
How does it feel to get such international attention for the show?
It took me a while to realize that it’s actually big. I think the first time I actually realized it was when they told me that Glenn [Close] was joining the second season. And I was like, wait, what? She’s huge!
Speaking of, what was it like working with Glenn Close?
I realized there’s a reason huge actors are huge. It’s not for nothing. Obviously, she’s super talented, but she works so hard. She is such a badass. It was fascinating to watch because she was so professional but at the same time, she’s having fun. I never felt like she was taking herself too seriously.
What can we expect from the second season?
Stakes are higher. Action is much bigger. The rhythm of the show is very, very fast. And Tamar is going through a lot. In the first season, she needed to do one little mission and then everything went bad. Now she’s much more active because she’s going deeply undercover.
It’s not often we see a female-led drama about a Mossad agent. Did that stand out to you?
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a female hacker on TV. She’s holding a very high position in the military. That’s not something you usually see. She’s brilliant but sensitive, scared but brave. She has her own abilities she could use as a female.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a female hacker on TV.”