Acting the part

For up-and-coming Israeli actor Ori Laizerouvich, moving between both theater and TV is a dream come true.

Ori Laizerouvich 370 (photo credit: Or Oren)
Ori Laizerouvich 370
(photo credit: Or Oren)
Ori Laizerouvich might just be the hardest-working man in Israeli show business. This multi-talented 26- year-old actor and musician has two shows coming out on Israeli television this fall, a web series that is currently getting tons of YouTube views, and has a debut album in the works. When he becomes a household name, and that time is fast approaching, it will be an achievement well deserved.
How did you first become involved with acting?
I always wanted to become an actor. My inspiration was driven by a variety of musical styles, theater shows and movies. Also by observing people’s behavior in order to try and understand their way of thinking. I started in 2003 with “Chich Neighbors,” a Tel Aviv professional youth group that performed on stage and in musicals.
During high school in 2005, I hosted a daily live TV show Zap to 1, which was a special show geared toward young people.
As part of my military service from 2006- 2009, I was a soloist in the Israel Police Band Central District. From 2009-2012 I studied at the “Yoram Lowenstein Studio.”
I performed in many plays and shows: comedies, musicals, masked theater, and dance. I also played in Smiley, which ran in festivals in the United States [Fringe NYC and Philadelphia]. I gained confidence that I could act in English as well as in Hebrew and still bring out the maximum as an actor.
What is it like for a young actor here in Israel?
Being a young actor in Israel is very challenging.
Every year there are hundreds of new actors graduating and the market is too small, with limited opportunities for exposure.
I feel that I was lucky to get very interesting roles and work with wonderful and inspiring partners and directors.
You’ve won a lot of scholarships and accolades. Can you talk about that?
Gladly. During my studies at Yoram Lowenstein Studio, I participated in many competitions for scholarships. This is very important, as it helps students get rewarded for their talent and hard work, as well as pay the rent.
I have won 12 different scholarships, [including] the “Best Actor” prize from the Kameri Theater in the fall theater contest in Suzanne Dallal. During my second year in the acting studio, I won the AICF scholarship for 2011-2012. That was the most exciting moment for me.
As someone who has experience in both theater and television, which do you prefer?
This is a very difficult question. It’s like asking who I love more, Mom or Dad. Of course I love them both. The theater experience is huge and I love reaching audiences in real time, hearing them laugh, gasp and clap. With TV, the experience is much more personal and each take can be surprising and new. Professionally, I am living in both worlds and I am grateful for that.
Was it hard for you to transition from acting in Israel to acting in the US? Did you encounter any ‘Israeli stereotypes’?
It wasn’t difficult. It was challenging and great fun. Every country has its own stereotypes, but my challenge was to transfer the character from Hebrew to English without losing its heart. Surprisingly, I found that the English character was funnier and more communicative. I drew from that and adopted those traits into my Hebrew character in Israel.
Which actors (Israeli or otherwise) do you look up to?
I only have a few actors that I look up to, even though I can learn from many actors as well as from my own acting students. I admire humor, craziness, courage and honesty.
I would say Jack Nicholson and Johnny Depp are my top two American actors. My favorite Israeli actor is Moshe Ivgy. He is very talented, with many faces and a huge soul.
Out of all the many projects you’ve been involved in, what has been your favorite?
My favorite role was Leopol in Kid, There is a Bird. I played an African man living in Paris. The character was full of humor and the story was very touching. I transformed myself physically with heavy makeup, sang, danced and drummed on African drums.
Building this character was new and fascinating to me.
What projects are you currently involved in?
Currently, I am working simultaneously on a few projects: the third season of the political satire Polishuk, the first two seasons of the daily drama The Zagori Empire, and the web series Bekitzur. I’m also a presenter for the Israeli Ministry of Tourism. In theater, I am acting in Shufra/Smiley (Tmona) and Doors (Tzavta). I teach group improvisation and prepare students for auditions. I am also writing a TV series, as well as composing and writing songs in preparation for my first album.Where do you see yourself five years from now?
In five years, I would like to be a successful artist acting in leading roles in theater, TV and movies. One of my challenges is to try and make it in the international market.
I also hope to succeed and develop myself as a musician.