Renowned British comedian John Cleese has been cast in Israeli director Reshef Levy's next film "Hunting Elephants," worldwide media are reporting.
Best known for his part in Monty Python and Fawlty Towers, Cleese has been dubbed one of the world's most influential comedians. This will be his first time appearing in an Israeli production.
"Hunting Elephants" will tell the story of 12-year-old Jonathan whose life threatens to fall apart after his father dies in an accident at the bank he works for. The bank refuses to take responsibility and even threatens to repossess Jonathan’s home, leading to his decision to stage the heist with the only gang he can find: three senior citizens.
The film will also feature veteran Israeli actors Sasson Gabai and Moni Moshonov. Cleese will play an eccentric British lord who joins the group.
Reshef had intentionally written the part with Cleese in mind but hardly believed he would actually get the British actor to accept the role.
"When the script was ready we went to meet Cleese. He was at a conference and we just knocked on his door. We found him at the hotel and gave him the script. I said: 'I think we have a part for you.' He said that something like this hadn't happened to him since the 1960s."
John Cleese in cult classic Fawlty Towers
Levy says he had an instant connection with the British star. "Within an hour and a half the conversation turned amazingly silly. I guess there is always an inherent affection between comedians. We speak the same language. Even if the film turns out to be a total flop, it's an amazing experience. We have the best cast ever."
Producer Ehud Bleiberg also reported of a positive experience getting Cleese on board. "John was surprisingly positive about the project from the get go. He liked the script, as well as the concept of old people left behind." Shooting is set to set in July, Bleiberg says.
This will be Levy's second film as a director. His previous feature, "Lost Islands" did well at the box office and won four Israeli film awards.
Yonatan Gat contributed to this report