One minute after meeting Azita Ghanizada and you’d know she’s nothing like her shy and timid character Rachel Pirzad on the Syfy hit action-drama, Alphas, which premieres tonight, July 23 at 10pm. Casting didn’t think she’d be a good fit but for Ghanizada, it was easy for her to rearrange herself to find what motivates Rachel to feel out of place and so awkward within the Alphas team.
“A lot of what motivates her this season and every other episode is she feels inconvenient,” Ghanizada said. “Like she’s trouble or a problem to her parents, family and society and we all kind of understand what it’s like to feel inconvenient to people. ‘We really want this boyfriend to love us, we really want our parents to pay attention to this award’ or whatever and those things don’t happen to us. My own personal life, energy, and motivation to become a strong woman has informed Rachel.”
“I’ve never told anybody until now, but in the beginning to make her feel awkward, I gave myself an imaginary penis. Really. I needed to give Rachel something physical that would make her feel awkward around boys or shy in the first season to try and understand what would be my thing that would make me shy, I kind of gave this thing where I’m a girl but I have a present! [Laughs] It was this little secret I had, so I created that for her and I got into her skin.” Remember fanboys, this was all a part of Ghanizada’s method, don’t let that odd image overcome the sexy looks of the Afghan American actress. Admit it though, she’s got quite the sense of humor.
As if being an Alpha wasn’t hard enough, in Season One Rachel dealt with her overbearing parents, who treated her abilities as an illness instead of a gift and they thought her life was unfulfilled when she could hold a man. They failed to recognize however that she was so awkward with her hyper-sensitive touch that it made being with a man even that much more cumbersome. Even though she reverts back at the beginning of Season 2, look for a much different Rachel by season’s end.
“The first season you saw her deal with a lot of things like her parents, and break through that ground, but she definitely fell back into an awkward phase with Dr. Rosen being put into jail at the end of last season.”
“For me it was hard to see Rachel go backward was a little hard as an actress, I wanted to see her move forward. I wanted to see Rachel take pleasure in what she could do; I wanted her to take pleasure in her super-touch, smell and taste. It’s going to happen this season by the midway point. She gets a love interest; she finally learns how to deal with a boy. Rachel gets to finally fall in love, which is a big deal and it’s a very important part (in her growth).”
“Rachel becomes a bit aggressive when she meets the boy because she doesn’t know how to deal with it. In a future episode, we go to find Skylar played by Summer Glau. There’s a whole town of alphas–we find this compound or commune or what would be the most natural place for hippie alphas. Something happens to Rachel that essentially shifts the way she handles her abilities. So going through the second half of the season that’s something that drives her and I’m driving with them to remind them that okay, she can handle more now, so let’s push her more.”
But as other cast members have teased, this season will test the Alphas in trying to keep harmony within the group as personal interests and passions begin to infiltrate the core of the group’s dynamic while the threat of Red Flag grows. How do these affect Rachel moving forward?
“She gets her own legs and I think that’s a big thing for Rachel, her dependency on Dr. Rosen (David Strathairn) was another disability. She needed to not be so co-dependent on him, just like she needs not to be so co-dependent of other people’s opinions of her with her abilities.”
“She actually spends the second half of this season challenging Dr. Rosen quite a bit because things go a bit awry and somebody needs to reel in what’s happening in that team dynamic. We see Rachel step up a bit and that’s important because she’s not a little girl, she’s a woman and she’s playing this girl for 20-some episodes and you’ve got to give her some more meat on her bones. She can’t always be the scared girl.”
“Rachel is also betrayed by one of her teammates, and the goal for me as fan watching Rachel, is to see her weaponized. I would like her to become dangerous, because there needs to be conflict. There needs to be a problem in order to create more human drama; it’s not fun just to be scared with things blowing up around you. I want to either solve a problem or I need to have a real problem. So that means getting over the parents and to be a woman who can have a boyfriend. The next the step would be to make Rachel a bit more powerful and that’s where I’m kind of pushing the writers/producers to push her. So we’ll see.”
Will Alphas succeed where other shows like Heroes failed? If they can pull off a successful Season 2 there’s an excellent chance. What’s not to like about a superhero television series based in reality? Ghanizada knows the score.
“Especially with the science fiction aspect and the super human drama, you want to make it real, that’s why audiences love our show, they connect to the fact that this isn’t about superheroes, in general no matter if you put on a mask or cape, at the end of the day you’re still dealing with this heartache or whatever it is you’re dealing with –that drives audiences! Their morality, their compassion, their empathy, that’s why people love with Batman and Spider-Man, they handle all of these real things and then they also get to be superheroes too.”
Tune into Syfy tonight for the Alphas Season 2 premiere, and every Monday night during the summer at 10pm ET/PT.