The Expanse’s Shohreh Aghdashloo (interview) on Avasarala’s evolution over the 6 seasons

Photo: The Expanse: Season 4.. Image Courtesy Amazon Studios
Photo: The Expanse: Season 4.. Image Courtesy Amazon Studios /

“I f**cking hate space,” said an irritated Christjen Avasarala back in Season 3 of The Expanse. Played to full glorious hilt by Shohreh Aghdashloo, a lot’s changed since the U.N. Madame Secretary-General tortured Belter sympathizers, put only her home planet Earth first, and gritted her teeth through g-force space flights. One of the most shocking images of the sixth season is an ethereal Avasarala floating in space… smiling?

Ask any fan of The Expanse and they will tell you that Aghdashloo’s Avasarala is a big reason the show has such a rabid following. There are YouTube videos dedicated to her peerless dressing down of anyone incompetent around her, which usually amounts to most people.

She wields curse words like weapons, outplays any of the seasoned politicians around her, but also always fights for her convictions, all the while carrying off the most elegant outfits ever tailored for a woman on television. Screaming Firehawks—as Expanse fans are called—regard her wardrobe as the pinnacle of television costume design (myself included). Credit goes to the brilliant Joanne Hansen for those breathtaking costumes, but also to Aghdashloo for the way she elegantly carries them off like a second skin.

But the stylishly garbed Avasarala of S6 stands in stark contrast to seasons past. Gone are the dramatically fashionable saris, bold estate jewelry, and fur-lined capes while trekking through the Montana snow. Earth and Mars (those who are not in line with Maro Inaros) are dealing with the aftermath of terrorism, and Avasarala’s dressed for war has a more confined haircut and has eschewed much of her big, statement jewelry.

Culturess had the enormous privilege of speaking with Shohreh Aghdashloo during an S6 press junket, and believe me, I wore my favorite new jacket while interviewing the queen of The Expanse on Zoom.

“Day one, in season six, when I went for a fitting when I saw the outfit, I looked at [Joanne Hansen, Expanse costume designer], and I said, Oh my god, we’re on the same page,'” explained Shohreh Aghdashloo during the interview. “Because I decided that what [Avasarala’s] going through, she’s gonna make a huge change. Not only in the makeup, hair, everything. [to Hansen] ‘And you added to what I had in mind by giving me this suit’… she is going to, if not a war on the ground, but a war on a table and she had to be geared up to her teeth. And she was, and Joanne Hansen, I think I’m sure you agree with me, is one of the best costume designers that I have ever had the pleasure of working with.”

Later in the season the regal actress sports a leather trench coat that is just spectacular. Look for that, Screaming Firehawks!

The seasoned diplomat is a changed leader from the Earth-first bulldog she started out as. Avasarala’s overflowing intelligence and ability to filter out the bulls**t has enabled her to figure out the good guys in the fight for humanity, evolving her viewpoint all along the way, and why she’s a fan favorite.

She diverged from the self-centered Earther viewpoint when she tussled with Sadavir Errinwright (Shawn Doyle) seasons ago. Her fun friendship with Martian bad**s Bobbie Draper has helped as well as a reluctant respect for James Holden (Steven Strait) and the rest of the Roci crew. Along those lines, there’s an intriguing moment between her and another Belter revolutionary (I won’t spoil it, but you’ll know it by the trench coat) that absolutely captivates later on in the season. Avasarala certainly has come a long way from torturing Belters for information.

"“Her point of view has changed a lot, now that she’s one of them: She’s lost her husband, she’s lost her family… she’s lost her son. So obviously feels more for other people. And now that she’s one of them, right in the middle of another nonsense war that is about to happen.“And also, she’s aging. You know, when we age, our point of view changes… When I watched Gone With the Wind, I always thought ‘poor Scarlet’… now when I watch it, my entire point of view has changed… I get upset with Scarlet every time I watch it. I’m like, ‘woman, don’t do this to this man because this man really loves you’ [laughs]. So this is what happens when you age. Avasarala’s always aging: she’s gaining more experiences, and she has now been wounded, so she feels there is no other way. But understanding what’s happening to these people and how she can help plan a good strategy. In other words, to go through this with diplomacy, rather than another nonsense war, in which probably thousands of people are gonna die.”"

The Expanse’s Christjen Avasarala stands alone among women on television. All her power emanates from her mind. You have a feeling that the only other person who could match her in intellect and mental chess would be Anthony Hopkins’ Dr. Ford on Westworld. The tour-de-force performance Shohreh Aghdashloo has gifted fans with is unparalleled on television. It’s truly difficult to say goodbye to such a groundbreaking character. (and a complete travesty that this woman has never been nominated for an Emmy for the role)

"“It was so hard [saying goodbye]. It was hard. Especially the few last scenes. We had a hard time not to cry. Because ‘oh, no, this is the end.’ Although deep down, trust me, I have no news. I don’t know, nobody has told me anything [about expanding the show]. But deep down, I feel like the rest of this story wants to be told and will be told at one point. This is not the end. But obviously we were told that it is our last season. And that’s why we’re all a bit emotional. But I guess hope is a great element in going on and carrying on… As an actor, I knew that one day it has to end, because it finishes, but I hope to be able to tell the rest of the story.”"

Hope. There are three more Expanse books that can be mined into another lifeline for the beloved show. If the queen tells you to hope, I will keep the vigil!

You can see the rest of my interview below:

Next. The Expanse: Season 6 Nicole Interview. dark

The first episode of The Expanse’s sixth season, “Strange Dogs” is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video. The rest of the final season episodes will drop on Fridays, including the second episode, “Azure Dragon,” which airs Dec. 17.