Ayelet Zurer has spent the past decade in Hollywood, where she starred in movies like "Munich," "Angels and Demons" and, most recently, "The Man of Steel." Zurer admits she couldn’t work only in Hollywood because Israel is where the heart is.
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“It's a big stretch because I had flown 15 hours just to be here," she says. "It’s little tinier here and a little less red (carpet), but it's the same for me. If you love a project and you support it, you do it in whichever way it works.
About the series Zurer says, "It's mainly about people who fall in love in a situation that makes it harder for them to achieve any kind of relationship. This is not a story about people who are religious; it takes that world and uses it as a metaphor because really the story is about love.
"There are three main characters and each one deals with her own love story and love life, so that's what kind of made it interesting for me."
Michael Aloni, who is most popular in for hosting the Israeli version of "The Voice," admits the process of getting into his character was very fascinating.
“This series is very different because I think it's bringing to the screen in Israel some kind of sense of HBO feeling," he says. "Every episode is like a short film, really close story that takes the characters from one to the other and it's really made very well.
"We're in Israel, everybody does everything. I can host The Voice, play a gay in a feature which I did just recently and then a Hasidic boy from the Yeshiva, and it's all working out.
Doval'e Glickman, Ayelet Zurer, Michael Aloni and Neta Riskin in 'Shtisel' (Photo: Ronen Ackerman)
'Shtisel' cast at premiere (Photo: Rafi Deloya)
"We went on and really visited Mea Shearim and stayed there for Shabbat, and learned a little bit of Yiddish and all their little rules and religious regulations that they have. They say prayers or make mitzvot that are just every day-to-day life to them, so to adopt that and to make it as my own like every day-to-day life is a hard job but a very, very interesting one.”
Dikla Barkai, who produced "Shtisel," admits this show was challenging for her because it brought her into a world she knew very little about.
“It's a community that is very close to us and at the same time we don't really know what's going on there," she says, "and I think this series is just about people who actually live in this community and you get to know these people. But at the end of the day, when you see the series, you feel it's about you. The conflicts are the same conflicts that we have.”
The stars of "Shtisel" all admitted that the process of learning their characters took them to places they themselves didn't always know existed in Israel, but that the most fascinating thing for them was that as much as they were curious about the Orthodox world, those religious Jews they met were curious to learn about the secular world that was completely foreign to them.