Actor Dylan O’Brien talks about researching his role for the movie ‘American Assassin.’

Young CIA spy Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien) finds himself teamed up with a beautiful, mysterious agent Annika in American Assassin (out now), played by newcomer Shiva Negar.

After years working in Hollywood, Negar feels was born to play the role of the Turkish agent with Iranian connections in the action thriller — she was born in Iran and moved to Turkey as a youngster before emigrating to Canada.

Negar talked to USA TODAY about her breakout role.

Q: Did ‘American Assassin’ casting folks just perk up when you walked in the room?

A: The universe works in amazing and mysterious ways. It was like I was destined to have this role because of my background and personal life. You keep the faith, and know there is always a reason for everything. I come from these very different worlds Iran, Turkey and North America. I have a good perspective of all three sides. Not everyone can say that. 

Q: How was your ‘Assassin’ firearms training?

A: I love the fact that I was trained by an ex-Navy SEAL on how exactly to hold a gun, how to shoot, how to move and walk like a professional CIA agent. That was the best part. Shooting in a warehouse with the other actors and Dylan, I liked that a little too much. 

I mainly used a handgun, but I got to shoot an AK-47 for the first time in my life. It was crazy — an amazing experience. They said just hold (the trigger) down. And it just kind of goes, non-stop. It’s a very strong weapon.

Negar plays a fellow agent in ‘American Assassin.’ (Photo: Christian Black, CBS for Lionsgate)

Q: You take a burly foe down in a fight scene. How did you do that?

A: I’m not going to lie, I was half his size. Literally. It was challenging. But the stunt team really went through detailed movements. When I finally got it, I was able to do it, with no effort, kind of take him down with one hand. It felt great. It’s like dancing, choreographed fighting. He helped me out big time, where to put my hand, where my foot should be, being grounded and holding my position. I got it in the end. That was really fun.

Q: The scenes where Annika gets dunked in the bathtub for information are intense. Was that you or a stunt person?

A:. The whole bathtub, drowning scene? That was all me. I said that I can do this. I wanted it to look as real as possible. It was intense. After the first takes, my leg was shaking when I got out of the tub. It felt like it was really happening to me.

There were times where I was coming up from underwater and I would be coughing and struggling. The director Michael Cuesta would ask.”Was that real or acting?” I said,  “If you can’t tell the difference, then we’re good.”

My sinuses were acting up for weeks after that because of the water pressure. But it turned out really good.


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