Interview: Meital Dohan Steps into Hollywood
by Daniel Haim
Born and raised in Israel, Meital Dohan graduated from Israeli’s prestigious acting school, and has starred in many theater, television and film productions. She earned Israeli Oscar nominations for her performances in God’s Sandbox and Giraffes. She played a central comedy role in Ugliest Esti – the Israeli Ugly Betty – which won the Israeli Emmy for Best Comedy Series. Meital won the Israeli Tony for Most Promising New Actress in 2000 for her work in Best Friends, with Israeli’s renowned Cameri Theater.
Meital co-wrote and starred in the Israeli television show Screen Warriors. She has written several plays which have been performed in both Israel and New York, including the original revue Love and Sex on the High Holidays with well-known Israeli singer Ivri Lider.
In recent past Meital finished a new web series starring Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite). The web series is about a young man who awakes in a full bathtub after ‘drowning’ and has no heartbeat, prompting his friends to believe him to be a zombie. The show premiered on Sony Pictures Entertainment-owned Crackle back in October of 2009. The show stars Jon Heder, Krysten Ritter, Josh Gad, Wayne Knight, Jean Smart, Ellia English, Taryn Southern and Meital Dohan. She also stars as “Yael Hoffman” on the Showtime primetime show Weeds.
Embraced by the industry Meital has been all over the magazine covers including the Israeli Maxim, Blazer, Rating and more. Meital has given us the time to find out what’s on the horizon for her, and what she plans next.
Daniel: Tell me about yourself, where did you grow up, and where do you live now?
Meital: I grew up in a small village in Israel and I now I split my time between New York, LA & Tel Aviv. I miss the food and the beach in Israel the most, and I also miss the fact that you barely need to use phones because Israel’s so small that you run into everyone on the street.
Daniel: Has acting always been something you wanted to do?
Meital: Well, I was actually very shy as a kid, even though I studied acting in school when I was seven. I only did it back then as a form of self expression, not because I wanted to be an actress. That changed when I came to America for an exchange program, because during this time period I was not acting, and that is when I realized how much I missed it and that I wanted to be an actress. When I returned to Israel I pursued my acting career more seriously, and I haven’t looked back since.
Daniel: You’ve recently done appearance on the Showtime series Weeds, Are you a fan of the show?
Meital: I am definitely a fan of the show and think it’s really a great, unique team of creators and performers that make the magic happen.
Daniel: What was it like working with Mary Louise Parker, how is she in person what was the set like?
Meital: She was very sweet and talented, and I think what makes her a great actress is her unique choices and style.
Daniel: Take us through the experience of working with Showtime and the actors of Weeds
Meital: The crew & actors were really so energetic and cool to work with, and it was just a very tight-knit group of people who were also very open and welcoming to me being the new Israeli on the Weed’s block.
Daniel: You’ve been in this industry quite some time, with all the people you’ve worked with and met over the years – can you share with us an industry story that sticks out the most in your mind?
Meital: Sometimes people confuse your television persona with your real persona, so people will think I’m Yael from Weeds and expect me to have a strap on in my purse.
Daniel: How different is the industry in America than the industry in Europe / Israel?
Meital: The scope and budgets of the projects vary, but “Hollywood” as an industry is pervasive even in Europe and Israel. I try not to concern myself so much with the industry or the country it’s being produced, because I really am driven by the content and material of the project more than anything else.
Daniel: Let’s talk about your book. Love and Other Bad Habits, what is the story behind the title? What are the bad habits? When was it first written?
Meital: I wrote this book while I was engaged seven years ago. I was so much in love that I felt that I would do absolutely everything for him, and this strong emotion made me write the book. In the beginning, I called it the humiliation book because the concept was that a crazy love would lead you to impossible situations that one can’t even imagine.
Daniel: In your words, can you describe to our readers what the book is all about?
Meital: Well it’s about my experiences with love, but on a larger scale, I am very interested in the contemporary landscape of gender relations and the very complex role of the modern woman. It is not one story, but many stories (in poetic form) that are responding to the constantly evolving and devolving role of women, as they must define and redefine how they relate to men, and even themselves.
Daniel: You’ve been nominated twice for a Best Actress for your role in Giraffe’s in 2001, and God’ Sandbox in 2002. As the accolades are starting to pour in, how does it feel to be positively embraced by this industry?
Meital: It of course feels great when I am appreciated and acknowledged for my work, but I don’t get preoccupied with awards or accolades because I prefer just to concentrate on the content of my work and have faith that I am choosing the right projects.
Daniel: A fun question I like to ask – if there was a movie about your life, who would you like to be the main actor and what would the movie be like?
Meital: You will have to wait until I am dead to find out what the movie about my life will be about. It’s only just getting started. The actor who would play me hasn’t even been born yet. In the film about my life, I would want Giulietta Masina to play me, and Fellini would be the director.
Daniel: What’s on the horizon for Meital Dohan?
Meital: I just finished shooting a TV series in Israel. The last film I shot with director Dana Adam Shapiro (Murderball) will be premiering this spring, and I will be going into production on my next film project in the coming months.