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February 2012

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Sleeper Cell, Dish, Channel Guide Magazine 2005


Oded Fehr Isn't A Terrorist, But He Plays One On TV

By Ryan A. Berenz

Channel Guide Magazine / DISH Network (December 2005)

Oded Fehr is a good guy. He's suave, stylish, handsome, articulate and
incredibly polite. He's traveled the world and speaks three languages. He's a
devoted husband and father. He's been in movies (The Mummy) and TV series (Charmed)
and, with a fervid following of female fans, he's one of Hollywood's rising

It's just days after the July terrorist bombings in London's transit system when
I meet Fehr to talk about Sleeper Cell, Showtime's new 10-part drama series
about a group of terrorists and the FBI agent working to bring them down from
inside. With the wounds of London still fresh, we share an uneasy feeling that
the fiction of the series is all too real in America. It's a reality that Fehr,
a native of Israel, believes most Americans haven't yet fully grasped. "Growing
up in the Middle East, when I first came [to America], I really felt a
difference in people's awareness of that side of the world, of those conflicts,
the fear of terrorism and so on. I felt an absence of that awareness. And I
think we're still there," he says. "I think if you asked the average American
general questions about Islam or what are these people fighting for, or any of
those kind of questions, they probably wouldn't know."

Contrast nice-guy Fehr with Farik, the character he plays in Sleeper Cell. Farik
is ...

"...Farik is spearheading a group of terrorists who are planning something
really bad for Los Angeles. He's a finely tuned instrument of jihad, focused
like a laser on his objective, not afraid to brutally kill anyone - even an ally
- who might jeopardize the mission. He's America's worst nightmare, and he could
be your neighbor or your kid's soccer coach.

"'The whole thing is very strange for me. It really is,' Fehr says of his
challenging role. 'I can't even tell you how far to the other end that character
is from who I really am in real life.It's very strange. It's very scary in that
respect. I find that many times I scare myself with this character.' And what's
also frightening is that Fehr plays Farik with such cold, calculating charisma
and conviction that it's sometimes difficult to remember he isn't the guy you
should root for.

"Fehr's goal was to portray Farik not as a monster, but as a human, and it's
horrifying to see how seemingly ordinary people are capable of extraordinary
evil. 'I think that's what's so well done in this show is the fact that these
are people you'd never suspect - the soccer player, the coach, the teacher -
people you'd never imagine would be terrorists.' he says, 'I think it's very
clear that [Farik] does absoluely horrendous acts and his beliefs are very
extreme and wrong, really. But he's very realistic.'

"It's in the gritty realism that Sleeper Cell succeeds. It cuts through the
perceptions and paranoia to get to the reality of who terrorists are and aren't,
and examines the conflict from all angles. Fehr hopes that from this knowledge
will come understanding and dialogue. 'It's extremely important because it
actually makes that fear - that fear of something we don't know about - maybe
explains it a little bit more,' Fehr says, 'The show is very real. It's
excellent at showing both sides of the conflict, the situation, the Muslim
religion, the extremists, the non-extremists, everything. I'm very proud of it.
It think it really would be extremely interesting for somebody who knows nothing
about that, and would really help to start a dialogue.'

"Sleeper Cell premieres on Showtime Dec. 4 and airs in 'multiplay' format with
new episodes premiering Sunday through Wednesday, and the two-hour finale Dec.