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If her face is familiar, it’s because Mozhan Marnò is currently a regular on the primetime TV series “The Blacklist.” She has also appeared in Season 3 of “House of Cards” and has made guest appearances on such popular network shows as “Bones” and “The Mentalist.” Or, you might recognize her from her performance of the title role in the film “The Stoning of Soraya M.,” about a woman accused of adultery, which results in her death by stoning. Multitalented and multitasking, Marnò also writes and directs screenplays.
Marnò began her audiobook career after being invited to participate in an audiobook narration contest. “The judges were all audiobook publishers, and the prize was getting a book narration--and I won! The first book I did was for Random House in LA.” Her career took off from there.
This busy actress believes performance is powerful in the way it affects the listener’s experience of a book, so her approach to narrating is to let the words speak for themselves. “I don’t want to dominate the text.” When she listened to Joan Didion’s THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING, a book about the death of Didion’s husband and daughter, “The narrator imbued her reading with so much emotion . . . when the book was already pretty painful.” Months later, she heard Didion read an excerpt from the book. “Her reading was very neutral, even, unemotional--and for me that was actually more powerful, because it allowed me to have my own experience of her words instead of one that was prescribed to me through a specific dramatic interpretation.”
However, sometimes it’s not easy to keep the emotion from slipping through. “I just narrated a terrific nonfiction book, MISSOULA, by Jon Krakauer, about the college rape crisis in Montana. It was a very difficult book to narrate because of the completely horrifying rape cases.” She says that recording Azar Nafisi’s THE REPUBLIC OF IMAGINATION was also challenging. “The author wrote about her and her friends’ and family members’ departures from Iran, and relocation to the U.S. Many people from my parents’ generation who left around the time of the revolution have similar stories, so it was, at times, pretty emotional for me, which made it more difficult to narrate. We took a lot of breaks!”
She’s pleased to have received an AudioFile Earphones Award for her reading of Jill Alexander Essbaum’s HAUSFRAU. “It’s always satisfying for me to make use of the other languages I speak when I do audiobooks.” She speaks French, German, Farsi, and Spanish. “And I can say a few salacious things in Swedish.” Her favorite character to narrate was Doktor Messerli. Essbaum wrote her as having a very thick accent. “I felt I had the license to make a bold choice. It’s always fun to be able to do that with a character or two in a book.”--S.J. Henschel[JUNE/JULY 2015]
© AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine
Photo courtesy of the narrator
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