The hit KAN drama Tehran features espionage and reveals everyday challenges Iranian citizens face. It also presents a cast that has built ties between two cultures and nations that have been long-time enemies.In a recent phone interview, director Daniel Syrkin and Iranian-American actor Shaun Toub shared their thoughts about the series and building bridges between Iranians and Israelis.Titled after Iran’s capital, Tehran revolves around Tamar Rabinyan, a young Mossad agent, played by Israeli actress Niv Sultan, who travels undercover to Iran, also the character’s birthplace, to disable a nuclear reactor. In Tehran, Rabinyan is tasked with interacting with Iranian locals who help her rediscover her roots and confront her true enemy. “We really wanted to show how this young Mossad agent learns about her culture again and about loyalty, patience and country,” said the Israeli Syrkin who also directed the popular Netflix show Mossad 101.The Israel-Iran conflict has lasted for decades but that didn’t stop cast members from forming friendships. “I think in the beginning both sides were cautious of each other,” said Syrkin. “Israelis were cautious of Iranians and some Iranians said they thought the shoot was some kind of Mossad scam but we all eventually became really good friends.”“It’s up to Iranians to choose the regime but my hope is that we Israelis will not be in quarrel with them anymore,” he added. “Not with the people and not with the regime. My dream is to be able to go to Iran and to feel safe there and not to be afraid of Iran.”To replicate the streets of Tehran, Syrkin and his team traveled to Athens, Greece, where crew members reconstructed roads, renamed street lamps and signs that resembled the Iranian capital. Syrkin also recruited a number of Iranians to serve as extras in the show, he found living in refugee camps in Athens.“I met some amazing people,” said Syrkin. “A guy who was an engineer, college graduates and people who had different jobs in Iran and were now unemployed and waiting months to receive their status to go live elsewhere.” The international cast donated food and blankets to the refugees after the production ended, mentioned Syrkin. Iranian-American Actor Shaun Toub, who plays security officer Faraz Mehmet, also relayed his views about interacting with the refugees and how he hopes the series will change Iranians' perception of Israel. “One of the reasons I accepted this role is because I thought it would be a very interesting series to bring the two cultures together,” Toub said. “At the end of the day people are just people and we all have our challenges. It’s unfortunate that we allow religion to get in the way of being friends and knowing one’s culture.”Toub also shared his thoughts about the plight of the Iranian refugees he encountered in Athens. “As an Iranian, it's really shameful and I don’t know why the Iranian government doesn’t see that. It’s honestly sad, because we are such a rich country and to see refugees all over Europe. It doesn’t make sense, but unfortunately we are living in very strange times and it’s very heartbreaking.”TOUB, WHO also is Jewish, has more than 30 years experience acting with 100 episodes and 40 features. He’s performed in the 2004 drama Crash, as well as Ironman and Homeland. He described his experience working with Israelis involved in the production.“People always say Israelis are so tough and rough and they have to be at times, but I have to tell you on set they couldn’t have been nicer, they couldn’t have been sweeter... There was just a lot of love, there was never any animosity or bashing it was really lovely, every one was trying to do their best and maybe that’s why the series has become such a big hit,” Toub said. Syrkin, who is of Russian origin, also highlighted what he learned about Iran and its heritage. “I was really surprised by all the similarities between Russian and Iranian culture,” he said. “There are parts of the cuisine that are similar but Iranians also honor their own culture which reminded me of Russia. For example, Russians always quote some verses and I found out that almost any Iranian can also do the same from some great Iranian poets. And also, the literacy in Iran, I was just amazed by how many people in Iran also love reading.” Syrkin believes part of what has drawn Israeli viewers to Tehran, which debuted on June 22 and has been met with critical acclaim, is the lack of knowledge Israelis have about Iran. “I think all we know about Iran in Israel is that they are the enemy,” Syrkin said. “And after we met so many Iranian people, we understand that maybe the regime is our enemy. I really don’t understand why Iran and Israel should be enemies but that is how it is. I think that the people are very similar and need each other. Meeting all those young Iranian actors, coming from all over the world, to me they all look Israeli. I could easily place them in Tel Aviv and they would fit there perfectly.” In late June, Apple TV+ announced it picked up the series and, according to Toub, has garnered immense attention. Syrkin said he believes that Israeli audiences are hungry for such content. “You know we are not out here to educate people, our main goal is to make high quality drama, but if we can make people think and learn something different, that for us, is amazing,” he said.