It was a week of spectacular highlights, new experiences and different perceptions, said the latest group of Los Angeles celebrities to visit Israel with America’s Voices in Israel, part of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
C.S. Lee, who plays Vince Masuka on “Dexter,” was amazed by the proximity of Syria “in your backyard”; Anson Mount, from AMC’s “Hell on Wheels,” loved the cultivated green of local farmlands, and actress Vivian Bang couldn’t believe how certain aspects of army training are similar to the typical college experience.
“It’s about the diversity of the experience,” said Lea Thompson, the veteran actress first known for her role in “Back to the Future,” who was visiting with her husband, Howard Deutch, and their two adult daughters. She liked the “ancient feel of the place that speaks to your heart like no other place.”
But maybe it was her daughter, Zoey Deutch, star of the upcoming movie, “Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters,” who said it best, commenting that Israelis tend to “burn their candles and eat their candies,” choosing to enjoy life now, instead of waiting around for it.
“We don’t enjoy our day-to-day life as much,” agreed her sister, musician Madelyn Deutch.
The seven actors spent seven days traveling around Israel, seeing Masada (“I could play Cleopatra on Masada,” joked Bang, referring to her looks, which mirror those of the Egyptian princess), drinking local wines (“I haven’t had a bad wine here,” said Lee), partying in Tel Aviv (“It would be awesome to shoot [a film] in Tel Aviv,” commented Madelyn Deutch), and exploring the south (“I could see myself shooting a sci-fi film in the south,” said Mount).
Part of an ongoing series of visits coordinated by Irwin Katsof, director of America’s Voices in Israel, and sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Tourism, El Al Israel Airlines, and the David InterContinental and Inbal Hotels, the groups tour the Golan Heights and Gaza border regions, meet with politicians, high-tech entrepreneurs and army officials, and gain a hasty but broad appreciation for the local lifestyle.
For Howard Deutch, who seemed to be acting as the easily-teased papa bear of the group, it was all about Jerusalem, where he waxed eloquently about its “gestalt of tolerance.”
Ditto for Mount, who said people have always told him he’d love Tel Aviv (“I’m not sure what that says about me,” said the hunky, ponytailed star) but preferred Jerusalem as well.
In between the sightseeing and time spent relaxing — Thompson appreciated all the diverse swimming experiences, including the Dead Sea, Mediterranean and hotel pools — the group pointed out that it was Lee who received the most star attention, getting “respectfully” mobbed by fans pretty much everywhere.
“I had no idea ‘Dexter’ was this popular here,” said Lee, a Korean-American who talked about leaving his wife and nine-month-old baby home to take the trip. “We are the end of an eight-year run, but I’m just a supporting actor. Anson is the star of his show.”
The Deutch sisters said their mother, Lea Thompson, was recognized in a burger bar, by a fan who was excited to meet the “Switched at Birth” star.
Surprisingly, they also seemed to enjoy traveling together, an unexpected plus for the entire group, which was made up of the close-knit Deutch family, along with Lee, Bang and Mount.
“I”d like to be adopted by them,” joked Bang.
“I’m going to adopt them,” vied Mount. “They’ve got a beautiful dynamic.”
“It’s been a family trip,” he added. “We’re gonna make T-shirts.”