Picture: Bobby Quillard

In the acclaimed drama Homeland, Navid Negahban is known as the CIA's public enemy No.1 - Abu Nazir, high-ranking member of al-Qaida. But in reality the Iranian-born actor is a pacifist.

"Sometimes I get so frustrated. I sit and I start analysing and thinking, 'Why are we fighting'," he says over the phone from his Los Angeles home.

"I get so passionate about these things. We cannot just go around and shoot someone just because they don't have the same understanding or the same opinion."

While he does get the occasional sideways glance from customs officers at airports, Negahban - who has also appeared in the eighth and final season of hit show 24 and the film Charlie Wilson's War, alongside Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts - could not be more different from his character on the Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning drama.

"I try to see people for who they are instead of judging them and categorising them and pigeonholing them," he says.

"One of the rules I have in my life, and the way I try to lead my life, is to be blind and deaf.

"I believe you can seek the truth when you are blind and you can hear the truth when you are deaf. The problem is sometimes that the media feed you information that is their opinion and then, as a reader or the audience, we don't question what is being handed to us.

"The problem is we start judging people based on the language, based on the religion, but human beings are from all these different places which make them look different to us when, at the core, all of us are the same."

Negahban's unprejudiced outlook on life even filters into his portrayal of terrorist Nazir, who he sees as more than just a cold-blooded killer.

"I think you have to be very careful not to judge the character," he says.

"Nobody looks at themselves as a villain or an evil person and I think that's very important, especially when playing a character like Abu Nazir. To me you have to be very careful how you portray characters. You have to be as truthful and honest as possible - nobody is born a terrorist."

Last week on the tenth episode of the second season of Homeland - which is being fast-tracked from the US by Ten - Nazir took CIA analyst Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) hostage in order to blackmail US Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) into killing Vice-President Walden.

With Brody's help, one of Nazir's followers was able to hack the politician's pacemaker and cause a heart attack, finally getting revenge for Walden's sanctioned drone strike that killed 83 children, including Nazir's son, Issa.

The controversial episode divided viewers, with some claiming that the show has become too implausible, but it provided more insight into just how far Nazir will go to achieve his goals.

By the end of the episode Carrie had escaped Nazir and returned to the abandoned warehouse where he captured her, with yet another showdown imminent in Sunday's penultimate season two instalment.

Meanwhile, Saul (Mandy Patinkin) has been hauled into questioning following his revelation of Estes' (David Harewood) covert activities and the Brody family continues to struggle to remain together.

As the end of the second season draws near, Negahban says viewers are in for the ride of their lives.

"What you will see at the end of the season is something that no other TV show has ever dared to do," he says.

"I am so excited and I have to bite the tip of my tongue to stop myself from saying something. I cannot wait for the season to end so I can talk about it."

The West Australian

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