Skip to content

From Plano To Netflix: How Actor Jerry Habibi Landed His Biggest Role Yet

The Persian Version is now streaming on Netflix

In Sony Classics’ film The Persian Version, we are introduced to a Persian family, who comes together in the face of a family emergency. The family’s patriarch, Ali Reza (played by Bijan Daneshmand) must undergo a heart transplant, and daughter Leila (Layla Mohammadi) is keeping a big secret. During the reunion, Leila reconnects with her father, her mother, and her eight brothers – one of whom, Abbas, is played by Plano-native actor Jerry Habibi. 

Habibi’s love of acting began at a young age, when he would attend the Annual Nowruz Festival, celebrating Persian New Year at the Plano Event Center. “We would dance, sing, recite poetry and do a little theater stuff,” says Habibi. “And I just fell in love with it from there.” 

As a teenager, he grew fond of the films of Darren Aronofsky, some his favorites being Black Swan and Requiem For A Dream. “That one's a better PSA than, like, the drug monster or anything they showed you in school,” says Habibi of the latter.

From there, Habibi would begin auditioning for short films via casting calls posted online. He would also do voiceover work for Crunchyroll, a Coppell-based anime studio. But in The Persian Version – which is currently streaming on Netflix – Habibi plays his biggest role yet, portraying life in a Persian household, and delivering on the nuance of a young Persian boy.

Before booking the role of Abbas, Habibi had read for the role for three years.

“You'll see some agents, managers or other actors, and they'll be like, ‘Sometimes you'll have to play the one-out-of-10 IMDb movie with a terrorist role, or something… But I especially love this role [of Abbas], because he was just like an Iranian-American dude. He was kind of flirty, he was comedic, there were multitudes to him. He wasn't your weird, one-dimensional Middle Eastern character.”

Habibi says starring in The Persian Version helped increase his confidence, and he hasn’t taken a hiatus since the movie. Before our conversation, he had been talking to writers and directors, and working on some voiceover auditions. He credits a dance scene in The Persian Version for helping him diversify his range of skills.

According to Habibi, he only 6-8 hours hours to learn the dance sequence, but with a strong love for his craft, he managed to make it look so easy. “The more confident you are on set, and the more you know your own energy, and the more trust you have in yourself, the better you perform,” he says. 

Habibi keeps quiet about what’s next for him, however, he says he wants to work with more Middle Eastern directors and writers, and continue to play nuanced Middle Eastern characters. He says he would love to guest star in “something chaotic, like Euphoria.” But with whichever project Habibi books next, he hopes to lend his hand to the work in a much larger extent.

“I'm much more involved in the process of the production and in the writing process as well,” says Habibi. “I just like to be hands-on as much as I can.”

Don't miss anything Local. Sign up for our free newsletter.