So much of establishing oneself as a successful actor in the world of film and television comes down to an actor’s ability to be chameleonic in their pursuit of a role in order to make a casting director believe that they aesthetically fit the character.
While the mark of a great actor entails a level of finesse and understanding of the human condition that extends far beyond the depths of one’s surface appearance, when it comes to initially breaking out on the silver screen, looks tend to have a lot to do with who gets cast and who doesn’t. This seemingly unfair truth gone awry is apparent in the careers of many actors who seem to have fallen victim to the dreaded typecast, forever struggling to break out of that one role in which they’ve been ushered into playing over and over again.
Actor Shvan Aladin has created a diverse repertoire of work over the past decade that proves the extraordinary capacity of his craft. Through the wide range of roles he’s already portrayed across genres, Aladin has made his mark as an actor who cannot be pigeonholed into one role; but, being from the Middle East, more specifically, from Kurdistan, has endowed him with features that are easily stereotyped.
Over the years the actor, who moved to Sweden at the age of 9, has been strategically selective about his roles on the screen, but when you’re good at what you do and you look a certain way, ethnic stereotypes, like the “terrorist” in his case, just seem to weasel their way in.
If he wasn’t such a professionally seasoned actor, being called in for roles like this might get a little annoying, but he says, “I try to look at the human being that I’m playing as being different from the ones I’ve played in the past. Because every character is different from each other, just like in life. One of the most valuable lessons I was taught during my training at the Stella Adler academy was to never judge a character while playing it.”
He adds, “It doesn’t mean that I personally would approve of the actions some characters (such as the terrorist ones) I play do, but I try to put my personal emotions on the side while researching and trying to understand the brain of that specific human being and his justifications for doing what he is doing.”
In the past year audiences across the globe have seen Shvan Aladin star in a national commercial for the U.S. Army, the feature film Always Faithful, where he plays a terrorist, and the Swedish television series Blå ögon, also known as Blue Eyes.
While all of these productions in one way or another emphasize his ethnic appeal, the actor brilliantly transforms himself from one character to another without ever encroaching on clichés.
About acting in the commercial for the U.S. Army’s campaign “Tunnel Special Forces,” the actors says, “It was an amazing experience, and the director, Peter Berg made it even better. It felt wonderful being directed by a director whose movies I’ve been watching since I was a child, it really made the entire experience unforgettable!”
A two-time Emmy nominee, Berg was also the director of the recent hit film Lone Survivor starring Mark Wahlberg.
In the new political drama Blå ögon, Shvan Aladin plays the dynamic and challenging role of Sharhyar, a young Persian teen who is the only true friend that Simon, one of the other lead characters in the series, has. However, due to the fact that Simon’s mother Annika Nilsson, played by the Guldbagge Award winning actress Anna Bjelkerud, happens to be a political candidate for the openly racist party, Trygghetspartiet, some begin to question the authenticity of Simon and Sharhyar’s friendship.
“My character was a hard working young man with a beautiful heart,” explains Aladin. “In the show Sharhyar is the only one who stands up for Simon because he knows that Simon doesn’t share the same opinions as his mother.”
Over the course of the first season, Aladin’s character Sharhyar is framed for the murder of Simon’s mother– a perfect example of how stereotypes can turn an innocent man in to a falsely accused criminal.
“The political drama ‘Blue Eyes’ is about racism taking over in Sweden; but the subject is globally relevant. It’s a subject that has always existed unfortunately, especially in Europe today,” admits Aladin. “I want to be a part of those who fight against racism, and I believe that you can change people through art. My passion in life is acting and that is my art.”
Early on in his career, Aladin starred in the Swedish television shows Andra Avenyn also known as Second Avenue, and Riverside. And while he has undoubtedly made his name known on the screen, the actor’s talents extend to the stage as well. In fact, even with all the glitz and glamour that come along with being a film and television star, the actor marks his role as Ruckley, a lobotomized patient, in the theatre production of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest in Los Angeles as one of his most memorable to date.
Aladin recalls, “It was the best play that I have been a part of in my life, and playing someone with a mental disability is something that I researched a lot… I will never forget the things I learned during the production. I remember thinking during closing weekend: I will remember this character when I’m on my deathbed.”
The actor has also taken the spotlight in the theatre productions of The Hasty Heart directed by Harry Mastrogeorge and J.B directed by Oscar winner Milton Justice, as well as Our lady of 121st Street, and the remake of the Opera Carmen, which was held in Sweden at the Backa Theater.
With an accomplished repertoire of work with world-renowned directors spanning both the American and European entertainment industries already under his belt, Shvan Aladin does admit that there is one director that he has a strong desire to work with.
“I have always had a dream of working with director Bahman Ghobadi so I will also try to include my third country Kurdistan, which is where I’m originally from and so, hopefully I will get to work with him sometime soon,” says Aladin. “I remember watching his movie ‘A Time for Drunken Horses’ as the first movie I saw in the cinema in Sweden after moving there. I immediately fell in love with the movie and his directing, and I was only 10 years old at that time.”
Currently, you can catch Shvan Aladin in the role of Jacob in the horror film Mansion of Blood, which was directed by Mike Donahue (Surge of Power, Pooltime) and was released earlier this month.