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Omid Abtahi

Omid Abtahi


In Showtime's second installment of the Sleeper Cell miniseries (premiering December 10), Iranian-American actor Omid Abtahi plays Salim, a closeted gay terrorist.The up-and-comer's already been seen in Running With Scissors and F/X's Over There.

What reaction do you think Salim--and his gay sex scene--will receive from Muslims? I can't imagine it being too positive. In Islam being gay is one of the worst things--it's so bad, it's not even in the Koran. I have a family member who's gay--after 33 years he just told his mom, and she's having a hard time. My playing this character, although he's a terrorist, is like a dedication to him.

What have you heard from friends and family? When I explained the complexity of the character, a lot of people were supportive. But my father said, "I'm glad, but don't expect me to watch it."

Do gays make better terrorists with their intricate knowledge of clashing color patterns and what might spoil a crab dip? [Laughs] I'd have to say no because gays are very passionate and expressive, and in certain situations you can't let your emotions get the better of you. But I had the nicest wardrobe of anyone on that show.

Any plans to play a well-adjusted character in the future? I went on to play another gay character in a film called The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. I have the Middle Eastern homosexual role market covered.

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