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Canada's Tony Nash talks playing the villain in anticipated new series "Condor"

Every good story starts with adolescent love, and Tony Nash’s is no different. He was still a teenager when he auditioned for his high school’s play to impress his crush. Standing up on that stage in the starring role, Nash did fall in love, but not with the girl; he fell in love with the craft of acting, and that passion only became stronger as he grew. Today, he is an internationally acclaimed actor known for his talent and versatility.

“My style of acting is not acting at all, but I see it better described as being. It comes from the idea that good acting does not come from action at all, the noun of the word 'acting', but rather from the state of being that you cultivate within and from which the life and behavior of your character would stem. I guess if I had to describe my style of acting, I would say I strive to be truthful and vulnerable,” he said.

With every project Nash embarks on, this method of acting captivates audiences. In films such as Secret Santa, Saving Dreams and Meet the Parents and the television show Petrol, Nash’s ability to completely embody his character impressed viewers and critics around the globe. Audiences can now look forward to Nash’s upcoming series Condor, which comes out this summer.

Condor follows a young CIA analyst named Joe Turner, whose idealism is tested when he joins the CIA hoping to reform it from within. However, he stumbles onto a terrible but brilliant plan that threatens the lives of millions.

“The story was incredibly written by a seasoned Hollywood writer and it touches on themes of deception, misunderstanding, and loss. These are universal themes and are extremely relatable. People can easily see themselves as the characters; that is the purpose of art, holding a mirror up to human nature. I think the story is important because it exposes the deceptive abuse of power and the lies that people are willing to believe, which aims to serve as a cautionary tale for how we as humans can treat each other better,” said Nash.

In the MGM series, Nash plays Ibrahim Salah, an intelligent, articulate, brutal terrorist who is on a hajj to Mecca, though at the time he seems like nothing more than a pilgrim himself. He is the captor of an American, Swedish and German prisoner, all of whom he has brutalized. As the story unfolds, he angrily tries to explain and justify himself to them, telling them that he was once a teacher, an ordinary man whose heart was killed by the hopelessness he's known his entire life. It is a leading character in the episodes and central to the plot, as it was Nash’s character’s actions of capture and torture of the lead character that lead to the main conflict of the story, which involved a deadly genocidal plan. Nash is the pivotal antagonist.

“When playing Ibrahim, it was necessary for the character to portray brutality while at the same time a sense of goodness or warmth. He was not a bad person, he was just a product of his circumstances. In essence, I had to bring a sense of duality or seeming contradictions. Inevitably it is a very difficult part to approach, and so as part of my training and my experiences, I was able to tap into the character's pain and experience his heartache but also his loyalty, integrity and brutality and find a reason for each of them,” Nash described.

Throughout the episodes, audiences learn more about the character of Ibrahim, and begin to understand his motives. At the beginning, he is a school teacher who worked with young children. One day, he was away from school at a wedding when every one of his students was killed in an explosion. Inevitably infuriated by the senseless killings, Salah swears an oath of revenge for their murders. When he finds the man who he believes had a hand in these murders, he takes matters into his own hands. This outwardly villainous character is underneath, a loving, well educated, intelligent man whose heart was broken and numbed by the sadness and hopelessness he experienced.

“Ibrahim is crucial to the plot, and Tony was crucial to pulling off that character. Scenes were performed in English and Arabic, and Tony had to speak with a fluent and respectable Arabic diction. Moreover, the character of Ibrahim had to be more than just an antagonistic terrorist; Ibrahim’s backstory is wrought with sadness and hopelessness. All of this comes through in Tony’s excellent performance. He imbued the character with a sense of authenticity, bringing a terrorist to life as a fully developed, human character. Tony has displayed a mastery of his craft, and I am grateful to his passion and dedication for making great art,” said Jason Smilovic, Writer, Director, and Producer of Condor.

It was Smilovic that originally attracted Nash to the opportunity of working on Condor. Smilovic wrote one of Nash’s favorite films, Lucky Number Slevin. When the casting director recommended the actor to Smilovic, and combined with the intricate script and complicated character, it was like a dream come true. Nash then submitted a tape and was brought in to meet the team. He was instantly offered the part.

“Working with Jason and breathing life into the lines and story that he conceived was a thrill and an honor like no other. I have not felt more alive than when he and I were working side-by-side, engaged in the process of synergistic self-creation, adjusting the performance as we went along. Seeing him run into the room from watching the monitors outside, take after take, beaming, saying 'Tony, you nailed it… let's go even closer!' is why I work,” Nash described.

Nash found every aspect of working on Condor exciting. He was also working side-by-side with The Mummy’s Brendan Fraser on many scenes, and the shoot was in his hometown of Toronto. Long days shooting never felt extensive, and there was an elevated level of professionalism on set. However, nothing was as fun for Nash as playing the villain, which was a new experience for the seasoned actor.

“Villains are a lot of fun to play because of their counter intuitive world view. It is a leap away from my own perspective on life. This helps me grow as a person and develop empathy and more understanding for other people. It allowed me to explore the phenomenon of when a threshold for pain surpassed, a new morality emerges. It also helped me understand that some people I have seen in society as villains themselves, not to justify their actions, may have likewise experienced unbearable pain in their life that could lead to villainous actions,” said Nash.

Nash calls Condor the highlight of his esteemed career. Check it out on the Audience Network this June.

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