FAUDA star Tsahi Halevi held the audience enthralled as he reflected on his life and his role in the Israeli political thriller when he spoke at the Hamerkaz Centre last week.
Visiting Australia as a guest of YoungUIA, he shared stories of his upbringing, his military service in an undercover unit, and his rise from being a contestant on Israel’s The Voice into stardom.
“It always makes me very glad to see how much Jews around the world really support Israel and many different projects,” Halevi told The AJN, explaining that he grew up in the Diaspora – his father worked in the Israeli government, and his childhood was spent between Denmark, Italy, Egypt and Belgium, before he returned to Israel to serve in the military.
Reflecting on the experience, Halevi said his younger self thrived on the adventure of upheaval, being “enthusiastic and eager to discover the new societies, people and languages encountered”.
But as he grew older, he became increasingly aware of the responsibility upon him as an Israeli Jew overseas. “There is a lot of misinformation, prejudice, wrong thoughts and ideas about Israel or Judaism,” he noted.
Israel advocacy and connecting over commonality are issues Halevi feels passionate about, having also visited the US, and more recently Argentina and Uruguay with UIA.
“When you grow up as a Jew, and an Israeli in different places around the world, you get a perspective about life, and you understand that although there are many gaps between people – whether it is religion and society, education or language – eventually we are all human beings with feelings,” he mused.
While his universalist approach contrasts with his portrayal of Naor in Fauda, his real-life military experience is not so far from the truth. Like Naor, Halevi served in an undercover special forces unit.
Asked whether he drew on his real-life experience for his roles, Halevi responded with a firm yes.
“Fauda is realistic mission-wise. In the way that we get the intelligence, and the way we operate, it’s very authentic. Although, the reality is much more complicated and complex.”
“But, it is still a TV series, so we need to bring some Hollywood into it,” he added.
Filming for the second season of Fauda has just wrapped, set to be released on Netflix in March.
And what’s in store for Naor?
“Maybe I mess around with other women, I don’t know,” Halevi teases.