Shohreh Aghdashloo was born in 1952 to a wealthy Muslim family in Tehran, Iran. Drawn to the theatre from an early age, Shohreh was accepted into the acclaimed Drama Workshop of Tehran in her early twenties, before being cast in several socially progressive films directed by pioneers of the "Iranian New Wave" in cinema. Winning acclaim with roles in films including Gozaresh (aka The Report) and Sooteh-Delan (aka Desiderium), Shohreh was poised for break-out stardom, until the uprising of The Shah in 1979 forced her to flee the country to London, England, where she decided to quit her acting career and pursue a degree in internation relations. After earning her degree, Shohreh was on the verge of accepting a position at a national newspaper when a friend presented her with a play called Rainbow. Based on The Revolution and its discontents, Shohreh accepted the part, and went on to perform with the production for many years. Touring the United States with the play, Shohreh reunited with Drama Workshop colleague Houshang Touzie, an actor and playwright, who she later married in 1987.
Settling in Los Angeles, Shohreh began acting in small theatre productions. Her first acting role in an American movie was in 1989's Guests of Hotel Astoria. She followed up this role with a guest spot on the NBC series Matlock in 1990 (credited just as "Shohreh"). In 1993, she had a leading role in the comedy picture Twenty Bucks. After the movie was released, Shohreh returned to the stage due to the lack of parts for Iranian women in TV and film. In 2000, Shohreh returned to movies with leading roles in two critically-acclaimed independent films, the dark drama Maryam and the adventure film Surviving Paradise.
But her big break came in 2003 when she was cast in the film House of Sand and Fog alongside Ben Kingsley and Jennifer Connolly. Her critically-heralded performance as Nadi Behrani won her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress at the 2004 Academy Awards, and Best Supporting Actress awards at the Independent Spirit Awards, the New York Film Critics Awards, and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards. Due to her success, Shohreh quickly won a leading role in the ABC pilot The Secret Service and, later, a recurring role on the real-time thriller series 24 as Dina Araz, a terrorist undercover as a housewife in Los Angeles. Her film roles include The Exorcism of Emily Rose (as an expert in supernatural phenomena), X-Men: The Last Stand (as a doctor engineering a mutant cure), American Dreamz (as the fame-hungry mother of a singing terrorist), The Lake House (as Sandra Bullock's best friend and confidante) and The Nativity Story (as Elizabeth, the cousin of the Virgin Mary). She also appeared as Charlie, a ruthless fence to a group of expert thieves, in the short-lived CBS drama Smith. 2008 saw her appear as an inspirational archaeologist in the comedy sequel The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 and the critically-acclaimed drama The Stoning of Soraya M. as the mourning aunt of a young woman stoned to death in Iran. She also received her first Emmy Award for her role as Saddam Hussein's wife Sajida in the HBO mini-series House of Saddam.
Upcoming projects include the psychological thriller In NorthWood, the fantasy romance The Adjustment Bureau alongside Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, and the drama The No Game alongside Marcia Gay Harden. She also appears in a recurring role on the ABC action sci-fi series FlashForward.
In her free time, Shohreh takes part in her husband's plays, narrates audiobooks, performs short story readings, and continues her political activism against the injustice in her native country.