Tehran co-creators and executive producers Moshe Zonder and Dana Eden have revealed that the "biggest challenge" when it came to creating their ambitious, international espionage series was ensuring that Iran and its capital Tehran were properly represented.
The new drama, which has just premiered on Apple TV+, follows Mossad hacker-agent Tamar Rabinyan (Niv Sultan), who infiltrates Tehran under a false identity and embarks on a mission to help destroy Iran's nuclear reactor – but becomes trapped after her cover is blown.
Zonder and Eden spoke exclusively to Digital Spy about the challenges of bringing Tehran to life on screen, particularly as they actually filmed the show in Athens, Greece.
"This was a great challenge because we were really thinking for a few years, 'Where are we going to do Tehran?' because we can't obviously go and film there," said Eden. "And on a family vacation I was in Athens and I suddenly said 'My god it looks exactly like Tehran'.
"Because the typography of the city looks very similar to the one of Tehran and also the architecture of the city looks very similar to those of Tehran. So when we'd decided to do it, it was really quick...
"We found locations and we had an amazing art man who really created Tehran... We really tried to take from the streets of Tehran things we could put in the streets of Athens. I heard from Iranians who watched the show, that they really were confused – they couldn't believe that it wasn't shot in Tehran."
The show's creators were also very keen to authentically represent the people of Iran and said that a lot of thought went into writing the characters.
"The biggest challenge was to write the Iranian characters, for example the character of Faraz Kamali... and also the character of Milad (Kahani)," Zonder said. "Because we wanted to dive under their skin and represent them and, you know, also not to be too afraid to take different decisions for them. In order to do it we did research I would say of two years and talked with many, many, many people."
Zonder added that they thought extensively about the Iranian viewers of the show, saying that it "was very important to us that they would feel that we managed to represent them".
Eden explained that the creators were aware that they had an opportunity to showcase Tehran and Iran to a worldwide audience and so they were passionate about presenting an "authentic" look at the location.
"I think that nobody knows a lot about Iran, and I think that's one of the things we really wanted to do in this show – to give an authentic glimpse into current Iran," said Eden. "But not the Iran you see in the news. But the young people of Iran, the spirit of the young people, the culture, the music, the good vibes that you have in Iran."
The series also stars Homeland actors Shaun Toub and Navid Negahban, Baghdad in My Shadow actor Shervin Alenabi, A Late Quartet's Liraz Charhi and Big Bad Wolves star Menashe Noy.
It is directed by Daniel Syrkin and written by Zonder and Omri Shenhar, with Syrkin, Shenhar and Maor Kohn also being co-creators.
The first three episodes of Tehran premiered globally on Friday, September 25 exclusively on Apple TV+, with new episodes debuting weekly, every Friday.
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