It’s no secret that chameleons can morph into different colors, just like many actors can play polarized roles. Ohad Knoller is one of them. The Israeli star has played both a gay man living in Tel Aviv in "The Bubble" and a religious bachelor from Jerusalem in the hit TV show "Srugim".
Knoller is also a playwright and an engineer on reserve for the army. Acting remains his passion. The 33-year-old star had been performing throughout the 1990s. However, it was in 2002 that he got his big break with "Yossi & Jagger".
The Eytan Fox film about a romance between two soldiers won virtually every award it was nominated for – including Best Actor for Knoller at the Tribeca Film Festival.
He followed up with a TV series called "Knafayim" and two feature films. In 2005, Knoller got an opportunity very few actors get: Work on a Steven Spielberg movie.
“It was a great experience, but it was a very small role so as an actor it was not that great,” shared Knoller about his experience working on "Munich". “But as a person interested in cinema, it was very great. To be on a big set and to know how it works in Hollywood was really interesting. Steven Spielberg is very special and a very nice man, very modest, so to get the opportunity just to speak and have a conversation with such a great director was great.”
Knoller says the ultimate differences between Hollywood productions and Israeli films are the budget and the level of professionalism. “In Israel, things are not that professional," he said. "But we have good stories, and we know we have good stories."
After "Munich", Knoller starred in "The Bubble". The film follows a group of friends in Tel Aviv and had its North American premiere at TIFF. Once again, Knoller got to work with Fox.
“He’s very comparative with his actors and he listens to them,” Knoller said of Fox. “I don’t know about other actors, but that’s what I feel about him.” He says he never rules out working again with the director and that it’s possible they’ll work together in the near future.
These days, Knoller can be seen on the small screen playing a religious bachelor on the smash hit "Srugim". The TV series presents the stories of religious Jewish thirty-somethings living in Jerusalem. To prepare for the role, Knoller went to Katamon, a neighbourhood in the Old City.
“In this place, there’s a real religious bachelor scene,” said Knoller. “It’s a true scene and because it’s true, it was there before we started shooting, years before. We were there for Shabbat.”
The show’s first season screened in Toronto in February. It’s currently in its second season in Israel. Knoller revealed that due to the series’ success, they’ll be filming a third season by the end of the year.
The actor recently dabbled into a documentary with the Israeli version of "Who Do You Think You Are?" The show is being produced by Lisa Kudrow in the US. It documents celebrities as they search for their family’s history.
Having lost his grandparents in the Holocaust, Knoller knew it would be an emotional journey. “It’s a thing I’ve dealt with all my life – since I was a child, because I knew since I was eight years old that I have two grandparents that died and I didn’t know them," shared Knoller. "It was something that I grew with.”
Knoller’s real-life quest ties into the subject of a new play he’s working on. It’s based on a poem about a man who searches for the person who killed his father during the Holocaust. The play will be staged at his wife’s unique theatre in Dimona, a city in the Negev desert.
Aside from "Srugim", Knoller is working on a new season of "Until Marriage", an Israeli TV-drama. He’s been offered to star in a few films and is working on concepts for two TV shows. “I’m trying to be (busy),” said a modest Knoller. “It’s not easy.”
Staying busy as an actor might not be easy, but transforming into different characters is definitely an easy task for Knoller.
Reprinted with permission from Shalom Life