Moran Atias may be an Israeli actress/model/producer/writer who has had an international career in Hollywood and Italy, but when she gets a question from a fan these days, it’s just as likely to be about her volunteer work in the COVID-19 ward at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv as about her glamorous on-camera work.
“This coronavirus crisis had been life-changing for all of us,” said the multilingual actress, who speaks with a trace of what sounds like a New York accent, in a recent phone interview. Atias will appear in The Jerusalem Post’s special virtual broadcast to air Tuesday at 7 pm (Israel time). “Working with the patients made me feel essential...
I thrive on what would be stressful for other people. It brings out the best in me, but it’s not about me. What it’s really about is helping patients preserve their dignity, whether that means holding their hands or changing their sheets.”
Atias, who starred in and co-produced Oscar-winning director and screenwriter Paul Haggis’s movie Third Person in 2013, and who played a chillingly scheming first lady in a Middle Eastern dictatorship in the popular FX series Tyrant by Homeland creator Gideon Raff, returned to Israel from the US – where she became a naturalized citizen three years ago – to be close to her family during the global pandemic. But her homecoming, in spite of the stress of the crisis, has been a joyful one.
“I realized I didn’t know my own country,” said Atias, who also starred in a number of Italian movies and television shows, including Dario Argento’s The Mother of Tears. She has been rectifying this situation by traveling around Israel following the lifting of the coronavirus lockdown and recently visited Metulla. There, she met with owners of small businesses who are struggling in the wake of the virus and tried to “connect them to people who can help them not just survive but even thrive.”
Although she has acted mainly abroad, Atias is a huge fan of the Israeli entertainment world. “Absolutely!” she replied when asked if she would like to appear in Israeli movies and televisions shows. As for who she would like to work with here, she mentioned actor/stand-up comedian Adir Miller (“I’d like to do an Israeli Modern Family with him”) and Ayelet Zurer, who is a friend but with whom she has never worked with.
Asked what she would be doing if she were not being interviewed, Atias, who has recently appeared on the American television shows The Village and The Resident, said, “I would be writing my script.” She is creating a television show with co-writer Wolfe Coleman for the FX network. “I’ve been tweaking and rewriting this show, which is about a woman who is making a choice between romance and having a baby on her own.”
This woman, like Atias herself, she admitted, is “part of the ‘sandwich generation’ that has grown up with stories of romance but is now facing the swiping left and swiping right reality in today’s dating world. It’s about the journey of a strong, independent woman.”
Atias, ever the hyphenate, also plans to produce and star in this series. John Landgraf, the chairman of FX and one of the visionaries of television’s new golden age, has been a mentor to her, encouraging her to branch out from acting. “He said to me, you’re not just an actress, you’re a creator,” Atias said.Atias, who counts the Post as one of her favorite newspapers, said, “I felt very honored that they wanted to include me in this conference and give me the opportunity to share some of my experience and knowledge. And I’ll be excited to listen, too.”