Well, that was a cute, somewhat misleading hook for an interview I did recently for the Jerusalem Post Lite. For those of you that aren’t familiar with Adi Ezroni, she is one of the lead actresses in Hatufim, the Israeli series that Homeland is based upon. She’s also a serious Hollywood producer: A Late Quartet with Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, and Christopher Walken came out on November 2 in the US and she executive produced it!
If you’re abroad and haven’t seen Hatufim, you’re in luck: the first season is available with English subtitles on Hulu and Sky Arts.
*Warning: There are spoilers for the second season of Hatufim towards the beginning of the interview.
As always, let me know what you think!
Interview with Adi Ezroni
Hatufim lead actress, Hollywood producer and huge Princess Bride fan.
By Laura Rosbrow
Hatufim just began its second season. We were thrilled to speak with Adi Ezroni, who plays Yael Ben-Horin, sister of Amiel Ben-Horin (played by Asi Cohen), one of three prisoners of war (POWs) “released” after 17 years in captivity. Amiel was released, but died. Or so we thought.
Now, we know Amiel is alive, he’s a Muslim named Yusuf, and he’s secretly living with Syrian terrorists that tortured him. Meanwhile, Yael is starting to date Noni. What seems simple isn’t: Noni’s father was killed by a terrorist exchanged for the POWs’ release.
In a long afternoon chat at Café Noach, Adi Ezroni talked about playing Yael, how Gilad Shalit’s return changed Hatufim, Homeland, and being a Hollywood producer.
What’s been your greatest challenge playing Yael?
In this season, she’s trying to come out of a shell and put everything away. It’s hard figuring out who she is, because grief is such a part of her. Now she has a relationship, and Noni, as far as she knows, has no connection to her past. This is the most complex thing, because they have a perfect relationship.
It’s true that being alone or getting into emotional places is challenging. I think that acting with Asi Cohen was extremely helpful.
What is it like, acting with Asi Cohen?
A dream. It was easy to miss him, because it’s easy to fall in love with him. I recommend it to all actors. I think he’s doing something that’s extraordinary, to go from total comedy to being able to play Yusuf and speak in Arabic and look honest.
How did Gilad Shalit’s return affect this season?
I don’t think all the differences this season were done consciously because of Shalit’s return. But the fact that he did come back in the middle is interesting, because the second season can move away a little from the sensitivity, and be focused on good television drama.
I think the first season touched on a sacred issue that hasn’t been dealt with before. It was more focused on family drama, on them returning home. I think the first season had this feeling of intimacy with the audience, dealing with the subject with sensitive gloves. Ultimately, that was also an incredible plot.
In the second season there’s a lot more suspense. Now that Shalit’s back, we could also talk about the consequences of that decision. We can look at the prisoners that were exchanged for the deal, as well as families affected by terrorism.
What do you think of Homeland?
I think Gideon Raff did something that’s perfect for an American audience, which is to change the focus from the family drama to the investigation. It’s great re-formatting for TV, because this could go on forever – there could always be new people to investigate.
The Israeli show comes from a different perspective that is extremely intimate. The Israeli series focuses on the family drama because they’re one of us. The issue of kidnapping and being in captivity because of political events is real. It’s a daily thing. Everyone says the Israeli series is more personal, but it’s also more political.
What was it like meeting the cast of Homeland?
It was really nice. Now, the same production working on Homeland is the same one working on Hatufim. They were here shooting, and we screened the first episode of Hatufim, so they got to see us. They responded well to the screening of the second season premiere, and enjoyed being in Tel Aviv.
But the real climax was meeting Mandy Patinkin. I couldn’t believe I actually spoke with Inigo Montoya! I’m the biggest Princess Bride fan. He has an incredible career besides that movie. But Inigo Montoya’s such a person in and of himself.
I just recently went to see Princess Bride again after many years. I think that it’s the most perfect movie ever created. Every moment there are twists, turns, and punch lines. Wallace Shawn was also in one of the movies I produced recently.
Many people don’t know you’re an accomplished producer. Some of your films coming out soon have huge Hollywood stars.
I have a production company called Spring Pictures that I run with Mandy Tagger. Our first film, A Late Quartet, is coming out on November 2nd in the U.S. and November 29th in Israel. It’s director Yaron Zilberman’s first narrative film and stars an amazing cast: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, Catherine Keener, Wallace Shawn, Mark Ivanir, Liraz Charhi, and Imogen Poots, who was just listed by Variety as one of “10 actors to watch in 2012.” I’m really excited.
Last, can you tell us juicy details about this season?
Yael will get much more than she asked for.
That’s no surprise. But during this season, Yael will have many surprises. Maybe Adi Ezroni will have some pleasant surprises in Hollywood.