In bloom: Israeli actresses

Like many dreamers across the globe, a slew of Israeli stars are abandoning stable careers in Israel for bigger dreams in Hollywood.

This isn’t exactly new. The whole history of Hollywood is peppered with infusions of ethnic talent. Nearly every actor who achieves onscreen success in their native country then aspires to the pinnacle of cinematic achievement in Hollywood.

The Forward’s Rebecca Spence recently reported about a wave of Israeli actresses—Ayelet Zurer, Gal Gadot and Noa Tishby were three names noted—ascending Hollywood’s thorny ranks to wider mainstream success. This, even during a period of political confusion in the relationship between Israel and Hollywood (though Spence makes no mention of or reference to the fraught history of Israel/Hollywood relations). In the days of Lew Wasserman, it was practically an initiation rite to visit/support/advocate for Israel, but the present era of Hollywood has looked less favorably upon the Jewish State. What struck me was Spence’s assertion that an ever fickle Hollywood is embracing Israel (a new, niche market) purely for economic opportunity. 

Well, for that and that the actresses mentioned happen to be beautiful and talented.

From The Forward:

The phenomenon, which also includes the newfound fascination with Israeli models — think Bar Refaeli on the cover of the latest Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, and Esti Ginzburg on the issue’s inside pages — is part of a wider trend of Hollywood embracing the Jewish state as a land of business opportunity. Last year, American networks began buying up Israeli sitcom formats in droves, beginning with the HBO show “In Treatment,” which Tishby, in the role of co-executive producer, successfully brought across the Atlantic. Another example is “Mythological X,” which became CBS’s “The Ex List,” before it was canceled last fall. More shows are on their way.

At the same time, Israeli films are making a splash in America, with movies like “The Band’s Visit” and the animated feature “Waltz With Bashir” receiving critical acclaim — and, in the case of “Waltz With Bashir,” an Oscar nomination. The impending stardom of Israel’s leading ladies may simply be the natural next step.

“Hollywood loves the next cool thing,” said Danny Sussman, a talent manager at the L.A.-based Brillstein Entertainment Partners. “And because of all of the series and all of the films from Israel, artists coming here and crossing over is now the next cool thing.”

It’s no secret that Israel is full of drop-dead gorgeous women, and in a business dominated by sex appeal, that can’t hurt. But the success of Israeli actresses, Hollywood insiders say, is about more than their exotic good looks.

Sussman pointed out that in Israel, where theater has as much prestige as it does in places like New York and London — unlike in Los Angeles — actors often get their training on the stage.