On Sunday, March 8, former Socialista proprietor Armin Amiri got a call from his mom in Tehran. She was hysterical. His father, Ali, had been taken into custody by the Iranian police for questioning.
“They came and picked him up at 7:30 in the morning, and basically they were asking about me because of my role in The Wrestler,” Mr. Amiri said; he played the doctor of Mickey Rourke’s character, Randy “the Ram” Robinson, in the film. The issue was, ostensibly, because of a scene in which the Ram mops the mat with a guy called the Ayatollah, then breaks the Iranian flag for show. “They were saying I was a traitor, and also because of my playing a gay character [in Factory Girl], the F-word got thrown around a couple times.”
Ali Amiri, a retired hairdresser, was released 36 hours later.
“He took it well,” Mr. Amiri told the Transom. Since the arrest, the younger Mr. Amiri has been getting calls from people who have heard that his father was hanged—and he wanted to set the record straight. “They didn’t, like, torture him or anything like that. They kind of kept bringing him out—basically, they wanted to know if he had helped me to escape from Iran 20 years ago.”
What does Mr. Amiri make of all this?
It’s ridiculous, he said. “It’s like, for a guy who played a doctor in a movie … And I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t even read the whole script.”
When he finally did see the movie, it occurred to him that the folks back home might react negatively.
“I was just like, ‘Oh, I’m sure if one of those mullahs see this shit he’s not going to be happy about it,’” he said. That fear became real when he heard that a delegation of Hollywood bigwigs, including Annette Bening and Alfre Woodard, in Tehran earlier this month for a cultural exchange had been rebuffed by Iranian officials, who wanted them to apologize for the traitorous actions in the film.
Still, Mr. Amiri said that people should be careful about jumping to conclusions. “A friend of mine called me up and goes, ‘I’m so sorry about your dad. I heard he got beheaded,’” he said.
The Transom asked how the story had gotten out in the first place. Mr. Amiri said he had told the director Darren Aronofsky, who had in turn told Mr. Rourke.