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From Plano to Netflix: How Actor Jerry Habibi Landed His Biggest Role Yet

From Plano to Netflix: How Actor Jerry Habibi Landed His Biggest Role Yet


In the Sony Classics film The Persian version, we are introduced to a Persian family, who come together in the face of a family emergency. The family patriarch, Ali Reza (played by Bijan Daneshmand) is due for a heart transplant and his daughter Leila (Layla Mohammadi) is keeping a big secret. During the reunion, Leila reconnects with her father, mother and eight brothers – one of whom, Abbas, is played by Plano native actor Jerry Habibi.

Habibi's love of theater began at a young age, while attending the annual Nowruz Festival, celebrating the Persian New Year at the Plano Event Center. “We danced, sang, recited poetry and did a little theater,” Habibi explains. “And that’s when I fell in love with it.”

As a teenager, he became passionate about Darren Aronofsky's films, some of his favorites being Black Swan And Requiem for a dream. “This one is a better PSA than the drug monster or whatever they showed you in school,” Habibi says of the latter.

From there, Habibi would begin auditioning for short films through castings posted online. He would also do voiceover work for Crunchyroll, an animation studio based in Coppell. But in A Persian version – currently streaming on Netflix – Habibi plays his biggest role yet, portraying life in a Persian household and providing the nuance of a young Persian boy.

Before booking the role of Abbas, Habibi had read for the role for three years.

“You'll see agents or managers or other actors, and they'll say, 'Sometimes you'll have to play the IMDb movie one in 10 with a terrorist role, or something like that… But I especially like this role [of Abbas], because he was like an Iranian-American guy. He was rather affectionate, he was comical, there were a multitude of them. He wasn't your weird one-dimensional Middle Eastern character.

Habibi says she plays in The Persian version helped boost his self-confidence and he hasn't taken a break since the film. Before our conversation, he had spoken to writers and directors and worked on voiceover auditions. He credits a dance scene in The Persian Version with helping him diversify his skill set.

According to Habibi, he only had four hours to learn the dance sequence, but with great love for his craft, he managed to make it so easy. “The more confident you are on set, the more you know your own energy and the more confident you are in yourself, the better you perform,” he says.

Habibi is keeping quiet about what lies ahead, however, he says he wants to work with more Middle Eastern directors and writers and continue playing nuanced Middle Eastern characters. He says he would love to star in “something chaotic, like Euphoria.” But whatever project Habibi does next, he hopes to contribute to that work in a much larger capacity.

“I’m much more involved in the production process and the writing process as well,” Habibi explains. “I just like to be involved as much as possible.”

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