Film & TV

Nazanin Boniadi Straddles Fact and Fiction in Her Upcoming Film

"Hotel Mumbai" is a fictionalized retelling of the horrific 2008 terror attack on an Indian hotel.
Reading time 2 minutes

Photography by Christopher Sherman 

Styling by Corey Ng

The liminal space between fact and fiction can be a challenging space for actors to navigate, but Nazanin Boniadi and the cast of Hotel Mumbai manage quite well. Presented with the task of dramatizing on screen the very real story of the 2008 terrorist attack on the lavish Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, India, Boniadi admitted to experiencing a “gut-wrenching feeling” when she imagines how the victims might react when they see the movie. “It can be very difficult for those who were there or who had loved ones there, like any horrific experience, or mass shooting, or any kind of terror attack,” she continues. “That's what we really have to be mindful of.”

For her part, the Tehran-born actress plays a wealthy British-Iranian Muslim woman on holiday with her all-American husband (the all-American-est Armie Hammer) and their newborn baby when a group of gunmen from terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba storm the hotel. From that point forward, both the privileged hotel guests and local staff have to come together: “[This film] really is about the resilience of the human spirit, and in situations like that, bullets don't discriminate,” says Boniadi. “It doesn't matter if you're rich or poor, what religion, what ethnicity, what nationality—you're all in it together.”

As a former spokesperson for Amnesty International and a current board member at the Center for Human Rights in her native Iran, Boniadi’s take on the film is consistent with her personal modus operandi of finding projects that “raise hope, or inspire, or inform in some way.”


Casting: Ian Monroe

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