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Firas Nassar: “Invasion is history”

Firas Nassar tells us why Invasion on Apple TV is part of history, and what it was like filming the TV series

Firas Nassar in Invasion

Invasion on streaming service Apple TV imagines a visit from some unfriendly aliens on a global scale. Storylines stretch across multiple languages, cultures, and continents in the TV series, with characters based around the world, from Japan, to London, to Shamier Anderson‘s Trevante in Afghanistan, to the USA.

One of the plotlines follows Ahmed and Aneesha Malik, played by Firas Nassar and Golshifteh Farahani, an American couple whose marriage is struggling due to Ahmed’s infidelities. Their difficult situation is made worse by the surrounding chaos of hostile UFOs, forcing them to sideline their issues in order to protect their children.

Thrust into battling other people for resources and trying to hold onto any sense of stability, Nassar and Farahani’s performances make their narrative as captivating as any of their costars. We got to have a sit down with Nassar about approaching the role, why he believes Invasion is so special within sci-fi series and science fiction movies, and what it was like on-set during those heavier moments. He explains to us the intense feelings he had while filming, and how Invasion is defined by its script, first and foremost.

TDF: Watching the first few episodes of Invasion, I was struck by the level of human drama. Was that something that attracted you to the production?

Firas Nassar: Definitely, yes, definitely. I think it’s a very, very good drama. It was the very first impression that really impressed me right from the beginning. I did the audition at first and then they invited me to read the scripts of the first two episodes and I immediately knew there’s a great drama in there, on the paper it was already there.

You know our writers just did a great job, Simon and David and Andrew, who just drew a lot of life and a lot of nuances that you can clearly see it’s already there, and that was the very first thing that was really appealing for me even before looking at my character. The whole picture itself was so appealing drama wise that, really I said, ‘OK there’s a very good piece in there, there’s a very good drama’.

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So yeah, I thought that I wanted to be there, I knew that I was going to be in great hands such as David Weil and Simon Kinberg, and then Jacob Bruton all in there, I knew I would be in such good hands so well.

Your character has some pretty undesirable traits, and some scenes get very tense as a result. Can you tell me about putting together those really dramatic moments?

I mean, there was a lot of tension in a good way, which just fueled us in the best way possible. It just happens from itself, you know, it just happens organically where you have these intense moments, everyone on-set knows that there’s going to be this intense scene in there, and you can feel it with your partner.

Golshifteh is a great partner, she’s a great actor, and she brought a lot of depth and the right energy so organic and pure that you immediately feel it, again in the best way possible, that really serves and gives the best fuel for the storyline and the end the whole thing with between within between the characters.

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Also with the kids Tara and Azhy, they were these great kids who just understood the situation and I remember a lot of moments where it was so intense. I remember one of the scenes in there where we just, after Amanda [Marsalis] said ‘Cut’ I remember like the three of us just taking this huge breath after a very, very, very tough scene. So, you know, the whole thing was already there, I’m telling you about it but it;s just, the thing was written right, right from the beginning, you can feel it right from the words that are on paper.

You’ve worked on quite a few Israeli projects before this, can you tell me about the differences between your Israeli work and Invasion?

Yeah, I mean, you know, it’s a totally different kind of production. First of all, it’s also like, totally different material. Here, it’s a sci-fi drama. I mean, production-wise, you know, you can’t compare it, it’s totally different budgets. So it says what it says, you know, I don’t need to add to this, you know, it’s already there.

And the fact that you have a little more time out, you can say ‘I want a little more time’, it’s a lot of time, much more than any other production that I did before. Yeah, this time of just trying to understand, trying to experience and trying to do it differently from the previous stuff that I already did.

Invasion has a large cast with characters all over the world. Do you think there’s been an improvement in the amount of opportunities for actors of different genders and races within mainstream TV shows and movies?

Definitely. I think that I’ve been lucky enough to be active or to be born in these times where our world has been changing. I mean, diversity wise, you can see our cast which is really, we were sitting there at the table reading the first two episodes and you see this great diversity in there where our world just changed that much.

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And you know the fact that it’s not only for a specific audience, it’s not only for these people or that people, the whole thing just opened up to the whole globe. Everyone is watching right now, everyone wants to see context and the people in the industry just, you know, understood it right? And started making it diverse.

I’d say also real, like, our world is so diverse, especially the United States. It’s a very diverse kind of country. And it’s really happening in here and yeah, definitely we’re in a very different world and I’m proud to be actually in this show specifically, where it’s diverse, and our lead characters are women, which I so much love this pact where it’s been changing, buddy, it’s been changing.

We are facing, I would say it’s big words, but I’ll allow myself to say it: it’s history. It’s history, man. It’s history. You know, stuff being changed. Yeah, you and me. I don’t think that we would’ve seen such a big-budget huge show before that is so diverse and stuff five years ago, but now it’s really happening all over the globe.

I totally agree! With the pandemic, Invasion feels very relevant with its narrative of a global struggle toward a unified cause. What do you hope that people take away from the show in how we can deal with catastrophe like this?

I mean, that’s a great question. Yeah, I like it. I mean, I wouldn’t say that I want people to take anything or, you know, take anything from me or from us. I’ll say that I wish that people might compare it to the pandemic that we’ve been going through, which I agree with you is our closest thing to the invasion thing that we’ve been going through.

Firas Nassar and Golshifteh Farahani in Invasion

And I’ll say that, I wish as it made for me, we started shooting before the pandemic and through the pandemic, and it just brought me to a lot of ways just to question myself. A lot of questions about, well, everything about my life, about my family, about my relationships, about love, about everything. Just you know, maybe questions, buddy. I think that this is what I might say. I really wish that.

Awesome, thank you for your time.

Thank you, buddy.

The first three episodes of Invasion are streaming now on Apple TV, with new episodes available each Friday.