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February 2012

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Oded Fehr inspires fear in latest role, Lexington Herald-Leader - Kentucky.com 2005

Oded Fehr inspires fear in latest role

He plays a terrorist in Showtime series

By Rich Copley, December 4, 2005

Lexington Herald-Leader - Kentucky.com

Last time we saw Oded Fehr, he saved the day.

As Prince Sadir in Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story, he was the one who gave
the pre-teen horse owner played by Dakota Fanning the wherewithal to enter her
horse in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Tonight, he becomes our worst nightmare.

In Showtime's new series Sleeper Cell, which runs tonight through Dec. 18, he
plays Faris Al-Farik, a charming business executive, Little League baseball
coach and Muslim who also happens to be a terrorist plotting an attack inside
the United States. He heads up a terrorist group that includes a high school
science teacher and a blond, blue-eyed bowling-alley manager. Faris rules them
through fear and intimidation, including an execution by stoning in tonight's

"It was a very difficult decision for me to play an Arab terrorist," Fehr said
in the business lounge of the Marriott Griffin Gate Resort in October. He was in
town for a vacation and the gala premiere of Dreamer at the Kentucky Theatre. "It's
not just a villain; it's a villain we're all afraid of, and the idea of being
associated with these terrorists is a scary thought.

"Not everyone in the public is able to disassociate the actor from the character
he plays. Like, a lot of people feel the people on E.R. are real doctors and
would go to them on the street with problems. There's a fear of being associated
with a terrorist."

Fehr, 35, who is Jewish, said he "grew up in a very peaceful family" in Israel,
and unlike his character in Sleeper Cell, he doesn't have any conflicts with
other cultures.

"I really do wish for peace," he said. "Arabs really are closer to me culturally
than Americans are."

Fehr began his acting career in Frankfurt and London, but he moved to the United
States and appear the 1999 hit The Mummy.

He has been offered roles that don't hinge on his Middle Eastern looks, but
Fehr's parts thus far have played on his distinctive appearance. Typecasting is
a concern, he said, but it won't keep him from taking on a good part, and "I am
very proud of this project."

Sleeper Cell centers on Darwyn Al-Hakim (played by Michael Ealy), a Muslim FBI
agent who has infiltrated a Los Angeles-based terrorist cell. The conflict
between Al-Hakim and Fehr's Al-Farik highlights the vast differences in the
characters' approaches to their shared faith.

"He has to deal with being a Muslim himself and living with these extremists and
having them use or abuse his religion for their cause, their beliefs," Fehr said
of the character of Darwyn. "I think it's going to be extremely eye-opening, it
will raise awareness and maybe sort of explain things a little more. ... It may
really help the average American who knows nothing about the conflict and
assumes all Muslims are terrorists see there are extremists in Islam and
mainstream Islam, which is the same in every religion, really."

In the show, the terrorists plot to pump anthrax into the air-circulation system
at a Los Angeles shopping mall.

Fehr, as a father, said it's scary for him to think about such violent acts.

"When my son was born, everything changed," Fehr said. "Now, anything that
happens in this world I think affects the future of my son, and that's all I
care about."

Some of that future could be in the Bluegrass. Fehr said that while filming
Dreamer, he and his family fell in love with Central Kentucky and made friends.

"It's probably one of the most gorgeous countrysides I've seen in America, if
not the most gorgeous," Fehr said. "We feel very at home here, and we hope maybe
someday to make this our second home. We are that much in love with this place."