Israeli Actors Head to Hollywood

By Nathan Burstein

Published October 16, 2008, issue of October 24, 2008.
  • Print
  • Share Share

It was panned by critics and flopped at the box office, but at least one positive thing can be said for Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest thriller: It provided employment for an elite group of Israeli actors.

BODY OF LIES: The cast of the new film, starring Leonardo DiCaprio (left) and Russell Crowe, includes several Israelis.
BODY OF LIES: The cast of the new film, starring Leonardo DiCaprio (left) and Russell Crowe, includes several Israelis.

“Body of Lies,” filmed in Morocco and set mostly in the Middle East, continues Hollywood’s long tradition of casting Israeli Muslims and Jews, for better or worse, as Arab bad guys. The new film, released October 10, features veteran Israeli film and TV performer Alon Aboutboul as Al-Saleem, a master terrorist responsible for a series of deadly attacks in Europe. The movie also includes performances by Israelis Ali Suliman and Clara Khoury, whose father, the actor Makram Khoury, appeared with Antonio Banderas in the similarly named 2001 drama “The Body.”

Aboutboul’s role marks a major addition to the Hollywood section of the actor’s resume — he played an Israeli soldier in Steven Spielberg’s 2005 drama “Munich,” but has no other big-name films to his credit.

“Body of Lies,” which features the work of Oscar winners Russell Crowe and director Ridley Scott, extends a series of recent Hollywood productions with Israelis as Middle Eastern villains. Other releases in the group include “Iron Man,” “The Kingdom” and “Rendition.”

Israeli actor Yigal Naor, in particular, has made a specialty of playing Arab figures of questionable character, portraying a torturer in “Rendition” and Saddam Hussein and Ahmed Chalabi on separate British TV shows, airing this year.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • Meet the Master of the Matzo Ball.
  • Pierre Dulaine wants to do in his hometown of Jaffa what he did for kids in Manhattan: teach them to dance.
  • "The first time I met Mick Jagger, I said, 'Those are the tackiest shoes I’ve ever seen.'” Jewish music journalist Lisa Robinson remembers the glory days of rock in her new book, "There Goes Gravity."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.