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The Inside Face of True Justice

One of the least discussed attributes of a successful actor (or any creative professional for that matter) is the ability to absorb rejection without allowing it to lead to defeat. Just ask actor Babak Haleky. The Iranian born/Canadian raised actor has seen a lot of change in his life and weathered it well. He fondly recalls the day when he was walking his dogs and his agent called him with a frenetic tone. “She was screaming into the phone. She was so excited and speaking so fast that I could barely understand what she was saying. I just waited for her to run out of steam and then said, ‘What are you talking about?’ Once the adrenaline had run through her system she explained that I’d been awarded the part but I couldn’t figure out for the life of me which audition she was talking about.” recalls Haleky. A month prior to the call, Babak had auditioned for the role of the bad guy for the Steven Seagal series True Justice. He knew walking into the audition that he didn’t match the physical description desired for the role but an actor always respects the opportunity. Determined to present something creative, Haleky embraced the positive sides of the antagonist and this didn’t go unnoticed. Producer Bing Dang and series star Seagal had been so taken with Babak’s performance that they fashioned the new character of CIA agent Ibrahim Feraj specifically for him; no further audition needed.

Seagal (star of Warner Bros films Above the Law, Exit Wounds, On Deadly Ground, and Under Siege) appears as Elijah Kane in True Justice, a CIA agent in charge of a team bent on finding terrorists and bringing them to justice. Haleky’s character (Ibrahim Feraj) was introduced in the second season of the series as Kane’s confidant and the individual who could infiltrate the terrorist groups to bring them down from the inside. Seagal notes, “We wanted a character in the second season who was of Middle Eastern descent and was one of the good guys who worked with the team to stop terrorists. It was important to not show a specific ethnicity as being bad and when Babak came in for the audition he blew everyone away. He auditioned for one of the bad guy characters but he had such depth that he inspired a new role that we wanted…one which was built around Babak.” Haleky reveals that in spite of Seagal’s intimidating presence onscreen, there was a lot of joking between them on set. He notes, “Steven began referring to me as his ‘brother’ and, having watched his films from a young age, it was a very gratifying experience working with him.” Other well-known cast members included Tia Carrere (Grammy Award-Winning artist and actress known for True Lies, Lilo & Stitch, and Wayne’s World) and George Takei (award winning actor and voice actor celebrated for his role in the iconic Star Trek TV and film franchise).

While he has appeared in a variety of roles of different genres, Haleky embraced Agent Feraj as a both an acting opportunity and a chance to present a positive character. He communicates, “My role as Ibrahim Feraj was an opportunity to show viewers that there are Middle Eastern people who work for the government of the United States, even in the FBI and CIA. I wanted to show that Ibrahim was a hard working person who had trained and educated himself to serve a good cause; playing him, as though there was no race involved. He was just another human being trying to do good. As someone born in the Middle East, I’m always curious about why thing are the way they are there and what is the relationship with the Western countries. I was able to use that curiosity to educate myself about the role of the CIA in foreign relations, especially with the Middle East. I learned a great deal about what it takes to be a CIA agent, the education, training, etc. I think there are lots of different roles on TV for Middle-Eastern people. I have been landing a lot of medical roles lately as I have refused to play negative roles that typecast Middle Eastern people. It would be great to live in a world where these choices didn’t have to factor in but since that’s not the real world. Individual responsibility and choices are essential.”

One of the common threads that seems to run through Babak’s life is action. He trained in martial arts in Canada during his teen years. He acted with one of the most iconic martial arts/action actors with his work alongside Steven Seagal on True Justice. Now 2018 sees him starring in the upcoming feature film Wings Over Everest. When posed the question “How does it feel to be standing where you’ve always aspired to be?” he replies, “I used to watch Bruce Lee, Jean Claude Van Damme, and of course Steven Seagal as a young man and I gained inspiration from them to train harder. While I appreciate that part of their careers, it’s gratifying to see how that integrates with acting as well. I’m definitely more of an actor who has that type of training than an ‘action star’ but I think it’s the job of an actor to accumulate different skills along the way to help every role. Every film or TV program I work on brings me new challenges and opportunities.”

Author: Kelly King
The Inside Face of True Justice Reviewed by JaamZIN on 7:13:00 AM Rating: 5
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