The People In Your Neighborhood: MOZHAN MARNÒ

Photo by Christina Von Messling

Rare as it is for an actor to find success on one hit television show, lightning struck twice for Mozhan Marnò, who has found attention and acclaim in the pivotal roles she plays on dramas House of Cards and The Blacklist. A graduate of both Barnard (undergrad) and Yale (MFA), Marnò brings insight and intelligence to both these roles, and has been no less arresting in the independent films in which she’s appeared, including recent runaway indie hit A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night and 2008’s powerful The Stoning of Soraya M. We met Marnò one sunny spring day at Grand Army Plaza, strolled through Prospect Park, and spoke about her busy work schedule, her summer plans, and not wanting to live in LA.

What brought you to Brooklyn?
Life. Not wanting to live in LA. Not wanting to have that lifestyle anymore.

It seems like it worked out really well for you, since you’re now on two hit TV shows that both film in New York.
Yeah, it was pretty strange that I got do that—two concurrent shows. I moved back here first, just because I wanted to be in New York. I had been saying it for ages. And I was staying in LA out of fear and obligation, thinking that was the place to be if I wanted to have a film and TV career. And, in fact, the minute I moved back to New York, that’s sort of when my career took a leap.

And you’re also a writer, and involved with theater too, so that must be another benefit of New York life.
It is! But it’s ironic, though, because since I’ve been back I haven’t done a lick of theater, just because our windows of time are so small. You need a larger swath of time for a play. But that’s the idea. To do a play. And I’d love to have more of my work produced.

Being both a writer and an actor must be really helpful and informative when you’re tackling new projects.
I think that when you have experience writing, then when you’re approaching a script as an actor, you understand your place in the larger script. You have to know what your role is, what you’re serving. And I think I’m kind of better at that because of my writing.

What do you like most about living here?
Well, everything. If I had my pick of where to live, I’d probably pick Fort Greene. I love the park. I love the way that it’s just a tinier bit quiet than the city. You get a little bit more room and you can sort of have a break from the sort of hectic, chaotic, noisy life that I really like also! But there’s a bit of a break from that, a respite from that, in Brooklyn. I like that you can bike everywhere. What I don’t like about Brooklyn is intraborough subway travel!

So you’re saying you’re not a fan of the G train?
Oh god, the G train makes me want to die. But I do like that in the summer you can bike everywhere and you can see your friends that way.

What’s next for you? What’s your summer looking like?
My summer is looking like a lot of traveling! I’m going to Mexico. I’m going to France. I want to get a lot of writing done.

Do you have any writing rituals?
That’s a very good question. I need four hours minimum uninterrupted. I need for that to happen. I need to be in a place with nice windows. That’s another thing I need to have happen. And I need all that to exist over consecutive days for anything to happen. I have to turn the phone off. And the best work I’ve done is when I’ve had no Internet at all.

What about that app Freedom? Where you can’t go online? Do you know about that?
Yeah, but what is that? You’re just tricking yourself. And I don’t trick myself very well. I need to actually restrict myself.

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