6:31 pm - 07/29/2014

Lex Luthor in Israel: Jesse Eisenberg attends local premiere of his play (July 24th, 2014)

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Jesse Eisenberg (C) with general manager Tzipi Pines (R) and actor Mark Ivanir (L).

American actor Jesse Eisenberg surprised the audience at ZOA House in Tel Aviv on Thursday night when he attended the Israeli premiere of his play “The Revisionist.”

The Hebrew version was produced by the Beit Lessin theater company and tells the story of the relationship between David (played by Vitaly Friedland), a 25-year-old American-Jewish writer suffering from writer’s block, and his cousin Maria (Liora Rivlin), a 75-year-old Holocaust survivor living in Poland. David, who is having difficulty finishing his book, flies to the small Polish town of Szczecin to visit Maria after many years when no member of her American family has visited her.

The play premiered in March 2013 at the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York, to great acclaim. Eisenberg played the role of David, opposite veteran British actress Vanessa Redgrave, well known for her vehement criticism of Israel.

This is Eisenberg’s first visit to Israel. He came here straight from the set of the movie “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” directed by Zack Snyder, in which he plays Lex Luthor alongside Ben Affleck and Israeli actress Gal Gadot (who plays Wonder Woman).

At the end of the play, the theater’s general manager, Tzipi Pines, welcomed Eisenberg and thanked him for coming “during these terrible days.” She asked everyone to refrain from asking political questions during the post-show discussion. “Mr. Eisenberg has come here as a guest during this bizarre time, and he has no idea of the political situation,” she said from the stage.

Despite Pines’ request, Eisenberg himself said he had not hesitated to come to Israel despite the security situation and the tension that people on the home front are enduring. He added that if there had been any sign of danger to him, he would have reconsidered, but that wasn’t the case. He said that even though this was not a good time, he and a friend had still toured many places in Israel, and that it was wonderful despite the circumstances.

Eisenberg complimented the director and the actors, saying that the play had autobiographical roots since he really does have an aunt named Maria living alone in Szczecin, Poland. Still, he said that the dramatic and entertaining parts of Maria’s character came only from his imagination.

In writing the play, Eisenberg said he focused on the relationship between the relatives, and that he had written Maria’s character out of love. He said it was easier to identify with her character than with that of David, who suffers from “internal” problems such as artistic frustration and the inability to finish his book, and had never undergone any difficult experiences.

Maria’s Polish character and dialogue had special significance for the Israeli audience. The exchanges between Maria and her friend, the taxi driver Zenon (Rafi Tabor), take place in Polish only, as do Maria’s telephone calls. One audience member told Eisenberg that this gave him a feeling of home and a strong sense of the archetypal Polish mother from many households.

Eisenberg said that his use of Polish was intended to confuse the New York audience. He added that people in Israel spoke and understood many languages, but that people in America understood only one – and barely even that. The fact that the Israeli audience understood the jokes in Polish was a big compliment for him.

“The Revisionist” is Eisenberg’s second play, with his third set to be produced in 2015. When asked how he combined his film career with writing and stage-acting, he said he saw acting as a kind of continuation of writing, and vice versa.

When asked why he chose to focus on the issue of attitudes toward Holocaust survivors, Eisenberg spoke about the generation gap on that issue between himself and his parents. “The modern American kid wants to hear the details about his relatives’ deaths, not their lives,” he said. “He’s interested in the circumstances under which the family died – the story of Auschwitz and not the story of the family that preceded it.

“The young people, myself included, are only interested in that, instinctively. That’s why I intended to show the modern American experience on this issue, and the fact that there’s something missing in the way the subject is treated.
Here in Israel it’s more present because this is the Jewish state; there’s a discourse about the Holocaust. It’s not like that in America.”

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jigglemypuff 29th-Jul-2014 10:44 pm (UTC)
I can't believe they picked him for Lex Luther.
truth_and_facts 29th-Jul-2014 11:10 pm (UTC)
It's definately in the top 10 miscast of all time.
willow_diamond 30th-Jul-2014 01:44 am (UTC)
this was going to be my comment too.
dracopet 29th-Jul-2014 10:46 pm (UTC)
There's lots of discourse about the Holocaust, most of it is just really dumb.
dissident 29th-Jul-2014 10:48 pm (UTC)
“Mr. Eisenberg has come here as a guest during this bizarre time"

Bizarre? Really?
firerosearien 29th-Jul-2014 10:51 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'm gonna guess it's a mistranslation of Hebrew?
dreamformula 29th-Jul-2014 10:56 pm (UTC)
I actually think it's more likely to be a correct translation tbh
funk2funky 29th-Jul-2014 10:55 pm (UTC)
Genocide is weird.
secretivexhero 29th-Jul-2014 10:52 pm (UTC)
i'm glad you had a wonderful time while little innocent kids were being bombed

lol sry for that debbie downer moment but................. yeah
xx_rapunzel_xx OP here29th-Jul-2014 11:36 pm (UTC)
yeah, i'm surprised he'd go during this time.
tekkenfantasy 29th-Jul-2014 10:53 pm (UTC)
Does he know there's another Holocaust going on?
whizzingfizbee 29th-Jul-2014 10:54 pm (UTC)
So Israel is safe enough that Jesse Eisenberg feels comfortable visiting and touring around, but the violence against the Palistinians is totally necessary and justified self-defense.

_xaipe_ 29th-Jul-2014 11:03 pm (UTC)
deathbyrandom 29th-Jul-2014 11:04 pm (UTC)
there's this great quote i can't find right now from a palestinian activist about how israelis may be scared, but palestinians are actually dying
melina_agape 29th-Jul-2014 11:06 pm (UTC)
yeah didn't you know? the IDF is totally protecting people's vacation and shit.
_lisabeth 29th-Jul-2014 11:27 pm (UTC)
there's some Facebook group called secret tel aviv where people are just posting about rooms to rent and where the best spa is and how to call internationally and it's just...painful I guess is the only word I can think of
xx_rapunzel_xx OP here (kinda late)30th-Jul-2014 11:24 pm (UTC)
the thing is, i can see his publicist or whoever being like, "y'know, this is probably not a good time to do this-" and him being like, "NO! you MUST understand, i NEED to have this play produced here and it's now or never, OKAY?"

i guess i'm not directly addressing your point but i don't think it was very smart of him to go travel to israel just to have his play performed and i think he's a little too career-oriented for his own good.
kiwibutter 29th-Jul-2014 10:54 pm (UTC)
Praying that he shaves his head in the near future. I don't care if it's the Kryptonite that makes him go bald. It has to happen at some point in the movie.
mortimer123 29th-Jul-2014 10:56 pm (UTC)
why did I think I was going to see a picture of Michael Rosenbaum when I read that headline?
addictedgal 29th-Jul-2014 10:59 pm (UTC)
Because you recognize that he is the true Lex Luthor (and I like Jesse but no one is gonna beat Smallville's Lex).
wanderlost 29th-Jul-2014 11:00 pm (UTC)
Because he's the only Lex Luther that counts?
insaynejayne 29th-Jul-2014 11:11 pm (UTC)

Clancy Brown's voice > anyone in live action history ever

dreamformula 29th-Jul-2014 10:58 pm (UTC)
"He added that people in Israel spoke and understood many languages, but that people in America understood only one – and barely even that."

ugh. why the fuck do people always say this? So many people in the US are immigrants or children of immigrants from all over the world, I think it's pretty presumptuous assuming all people only speak english. Plus it's odd to me that at certain times Americans almost get pissed off at people speaking any language other than English (like screaming go back to Mexico at someone speaking Spanish) and yet five seconds later will be putting people down for being monolingual. Like, which way do you want it??
lovebum4life 29th-Jul-2014 11:01 pm (UTC)
It's always the dumbass wonderbread americans who are mutt mixes of every white ethnicity who say this shit too lol.
marcodepoll 29th-Jul-2014 11:05 pm (UTC)
Besides the most english speakers, the US has the second most spanish speakers, no?
truth_and_facts 29th-Jul-2014 11:15 pm (UTC)
Nah most people in the US speak just english.There is nothing wrong with it,it's just that they is no need to learn a different language.
dreamsofengland 29th-Jul-2014 11:22 pm (UTC)
I think a lot of times when i say this it's more wondering why our education system makes us start learning spanish or french or any other language so late. Of course every school is different but after living in Denmark and seeing how young children there begin to learn english, I saw how beneficial it was and wish I learned spanish at a younger age. However, where I grew up most kids did know a second or third language because most of us were first or second generation.
dreamformula 29th-Jul-2014 11:30 pm (UTC)
maybe it depends on area? Because I grew up in NYC and DC and most people knew at least one other language passably if not fluently.

As for the education system, it's very disorganized so it's hard to tell. I went to a school where they started teaching you a foreign language in first grade (I don't know if that's late or not)but I know some other people started earlier (preschool) or later (3rd-5th grade)
abydosww 29th-Jul-2014 11:31 pm (UTC)
This happens in Ireland too. Although we are taught the Irish language from a very early age, few can speak it fluently, I think that has more to do with how it is taught than anything being wrong with the language though. But a language such as French or German doesn't start being taught to kids here until they are 13. It also pisses me off that you can't do Spanish as part of the core curriculum in Ireland, it is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world!

Having said that, his generalisation is preposterous as he can't possibly talk for 317 million people.
xx_rapunzel_xx OP here29th-Jul-2014 11:40 pm (UTC)
i wasn't going to say anything at first because i thought i'd be overreacting, but i definitely raised an eyebrow at that statement. he's making fun of both "native" americans who maybe, for some reason, don't always speak proper english or make mistakes grammar-wise, AND he's making fun of (?) / making a swipe at immigrants who don't know the english language well.

i can't tell if he's being sincere (like, "that's just the way things are in america") or if he's making a snarky comment at americans. knowing him, it could be the latter.
icallitwormlog 30th-Jul-2014 12:29 am (UTC)
eh idk I think it's fair to see that a lot fewer Americans learn languages than people in other countries. There are lots of immigrants and second generation people who learn their parents' language, but IJAF that as a whole Americans don't graduate from high school having learned another language. It's not seen as necessary, and it's shameful.
tundra1800 30th-Jul-2014 02:10 am (UTC)
IDK, I was raised in America and started taking a second language in first grade so that was my norm (same school k-12), but when I got to college literally 80% of my classmates either spoke only english or spoke a few words of whatever they'd had to take in high school.

Also in my experience, they people who say "Speak English!! You're in Amurika!!" and the people who judge the fact that linguistically the US is behind most other countries (ie kids don't take languages until 8th or 9th grade) are very different groups.
insaynejayne 29th-Jul-2014 11:01 pm (UTC)
jfc the Batman/Superman cast needs to STOP.
juanitatequila 29th-Jul-2014 11:02 pm (UTC)
lol mte, this cast stays doing the most smh
mangelalansbury 29th-Jul-2014 11:04 pm (UTC)
melina_agape 29th-Jul-2014 11:05 pm (UTC)
ugh. i get that he might be contractually obligated to attend the premiere, but he also toured the country and it was all fun and games for him and his buddy? jesse i love you but come the fuck on.
_______awshucks 29th-Jul-2014 11:07 pm (UTC)
It's so weird to see people on my FB timeline in Israel right now. They seem to still be running birthright trips..but just steps away bombs are destroying land and killing people.
deathbyrandom 29th-Jul-2014 11:15 pm (UTC)
oh birthright trips... it's so cool how people from america or europe or whatever have more right to the land than the people who actually have been living there
firerosearien 30th-Jul-2014 12:08 am (UTC)
...birthright trips are 10 days long, there's a difference between that and up and moving there (although I think anyone going to Israel right now is a bit silly for putting themselves in a dangerous situation)
homicidalslayer 29th-Jul-2014 11:09 pm (UTC)
I realize that a lot of people have a very low opinion of Detroit, but I find it hard to believe it goes so far as to think Detroit doesn't have newspapers, television, or the internet.
wanderlost 29th-Jul-2014 11:19 pm (UTC)
Well, considering Detroit doesn't have WATER at the moment (or, I should clarify, the residents don't have access to water.)
deathbyrandom 29th-Jul-2014 11:18 pm (UTC)
"Mr. Eisenberg has come here as a guest during this bizarre time, and he has no idea of the political situation"

oh come on now
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