KABUL, Afghanistan, Nov. 23, 2009 -- Life in Hollywood could hardly be more different from life on the front lines of war. But actor Fahim Fazli is experiencing what Marines go through every day by serving side-by-side with U.S. troops.
The Afghan-born actor's stock-in-trade has been playing bad guys. In the film "Iron Man," he was the terrorist who beat down the hero. In the TV show "24" he was a real pain in Jack Bauer's neck -- at least in season 6.
Now, Fazli is helping in the fight against real terrorists. He has returned to his homeland for the first time in 30 years. He's now an interpreter for India Company, of the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines in southern Afghanistan.
"I'm just playing my role and I love it," he said.
Fazli was born in Kabul but has lived in Southern California since his family fled Soviet occupied Afghanistan in the 1980s. He got started in acting in 1985 playing bit parts.
Today he's a long way from Hollywood, playing his biggest role yet.
"I love it. I love it. I love to go see the people. I love to see the children of Afghanistan. I love to work with these gentlemen. They're awesome," Fazli said.
Fazli puts his acting skills to work on the front lines. He doesn't just translate, he conveys emotion and sentiment with every word.
Hollywood has typecast Fazli as an all around bad guy. He's just got the look that says "I'm a terrorist." But in real life, his personality is much softer.
Fazli's Influence in Afghanistan
When he walks the streets of Delaram he is part translator, part returning hero, part goodwill ambassador.
"People flock to him. He doesn't have to talk to anyone for more than 30 seconds before they are best friends, they're brothers," said Capt. Ryan Benson of the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines.
But on command, Fazli can still unleash the look that made him into a working actor.