Shaun Toub on playing this season’s villain, why Javadi needs to control Carrie and whether Javadi can really be trusted.
How much did the writers tell you about Javadi’s overall journey from the beginning?
Shaun Toub: They were very detailed, and actually I was very excited to hear what they have planned. Of course, things have changed. So, where Javadi really is at the end of the season is not quite what they had in mind. It’s always evolving.
What did they tell you about what makes Javadi tick?
Toub: It was basically general information about how he’s the big fish for the season. They gave me the background story of how he and Saul used to be friends and then what he did to the agents, where he was supposed to deliver them to Saul, and he shot them. And they told me about Saul getting his ex-wife out of the country. It was a really sad evolution.
When Saul and Javadi were friends, did Javadi have a more cutthroat side even then? Or has that come later in his life?
Toub: I wanted Javadi to be a multidimensional character. I wanted to make him as bad as he was, but I wanted people to see the human side of him. He and Saul were actually very much alike. They were young guys that had a dream of what the future would be like, and this is not how they saw it. I think the revolution, as it truly did for a lot of people…took the innocence away. Javadi lost his innocence, and I think that takes part of your soul away.
If he’s lost his innocence, do you think he sees his role in Saul’s plan as any kind of redemption?
Toub: Yes and no. Deep down I think there’s a part of him that still feels that he got into this business to make things better. But now life has hardened him, and his back is against the wall. But it’s always a chess game for him, He’s always thinking of his next move. He doesn’t immediately jump to a conclusion. He has nowhere to go. They know where his money is. So, the best scenario was to give in. Would it make things better in the world? Maybe he thinks that, but at the same time he’s trying to survive this.
Does Javadi feel that, by falling into Saul and Carrie’s trap, he might be off his game?
Toub: Absolutely. I think he was upset and hurt that he allowed himself to be in a position like that, but as you see he looks at Carrie and he says, “Bravo, Miss Mathison.” He’s acknowledging that it was pretty slick move. He was upset, but it’s very contained. You don’t see him going off and getting crazy. He’s just calculating what his next move is. This isn’t the first time that he’s gotten into a jam. I mean, this is a big jam, but he’s up for the challenge.
Does he take any comfort in knowing it was Saul, who knows him so well, that was able to catch him?
Toub: In some ways, maybe, he would be happier if it was a stranger. He would have taken comfort in that, but the fact that they have a history together and what Saul has done to him, that’s why he lashed out, going so far as to killing his daughter-in-law and his ex-wife. He had no plan of killing her. He just did that to get back at Saul, to make a mess of things for him. He felt that he had nothing to lose because he knew that he was basically caught. It was just to even up the score. He wasn’t about to let Saul have it easy.
He also seemed to be driving a wedge between Carrie and Saul by playing their separate conversations about Brody against one another.
Toub: He’s constantly been trying to do that because that’s just part of his game. He isolates people and tries to read them to see where they’re at. Everything he says, there is a reason behind it because he was looking for a reaction.
But does he think driving a wedge will actually help him? He was going back to Iran as a CIA asset either way.
Toub: He doesn’t think he’s going to get out of this. What he’s trying to do is have some type of control over Carrie and to get information from her.Also, [he wants] to control her as to how he wants this thing to unfold.
Was Javadi also trying to assert control over Brody when he shot the soldier that was arrested alongside him?
Toub: No. Javadi makes an assessment and a judgment on the spot. He doesn’t want any liabilities. At that moment, he felt, “If I take this one with me as well, they’re going to insist that he be questioned and tortured. If he slips, if he says anything at all, this entire operation, and my life, is over." So, it was nothing personal. But at that moment he can’t afford this liability. He can deal with Brody and cover that up somehow, but he can’t have another liability and not able to control what’s said in that room.
Carrie shows up in Tehran in this week’s episode. Will Javadi still try to control her?
Toub: It’s really interesting because now he’s in his own zone. He is back home in his own domain. He is a bit flirtatious with Carrie in a very odd way. But things are also really tense, and he is not happy with her. He’s extremely upset about it her being there because he wants everything to go according to plan. He doesn’t want any issues. He doesn’t want any distractions. This is a very sensitive thing they are trying to accomplish.By her being there, it [affects] the way Javadi kind of gets around her. He’s angry but at the same time you see that he kind of cares about her, which is really strange but it’s interesting.
Does Carrie’s presence actually change how Javadi planned to proceed in the mission?
Toub: He has to shift quite a bit because there are other things that happen that are not according to plan at all. Brody comes into the picture, and then he changes the plan. Javadi has to completely improvise, and everybody’s caught by surprise. But that’s what he does. He’s a survivor. He’s a thinker.
Which leads to the most important question: Can we really trust that Javadi is going to hold up his end of the bargain?
Toub: He is a survivor so he does what he needs to do to survive. They have that $45 million embezzlement hanging over his head, and he knows it. So, he’s always in jeopardy. But he’s confident now. He’s a bit more in the driver’s seat where he can dictate, he can negotiate.
Is he trying to negotiate a way out of his deal with Saul? Or does he want the power that will come his way if Saul’s plan actually works?
Toub: I don’t think he has a choice for now. He has to honor the deal. But, in the next couple episodes, things are going to shift and Javadi is going to be in the stronger position. The power might be enjoyable, you know? It might not be such a bad life for him anymore. He could be a man with a lot of power and security. And then, if he had to make some decisions that benefits America, then so be it. But at the end of the day, he wants to retire and go off and have a nice life and get away from all this. This is not what he wants to do forever.
His thoughts on the “incredible” Season 3 finale.
How would you describe this season’s last two episodes?
Toub: Incredible. Brace yourself, because the last few episodes are quite exciting, especially the finale. Everybody was talking about Homeland starting very slow this season. I promise you it’s finishing up with a bang. It’s going to blow your mind. It’s that good.