Actor Liev Schreiber, in Israel this week as a guest of the Tel Aviv University student film festival, offered tidbits about his Jewish background and acting advice during a master class.
Schreiber, an American Jewish actor and director, spoke about the origins of his name (he was named for Leo Tolstoy, one of his mother’s favorite writers), his Jewishness (his mother was Jewish, his father was not), and his grandfather, who traveled to Israel every year and was a tremendous inspiration to Schreiber.
Schreiber, who currently stars as Hollywood fixer Ray Donovan in the eponymous Showtime drama series, spoke about his acting, a skill he said is 50 percent intuition, 30% staging and 20% film work.
He has appeared in dozens of films, and on stage as well, winning the 2004 Tony Award for best featured actor for his performance in “Glengarry Glen Ross.”
Schreiber made his directorial debut in 2005 as the director and writer of “Everything is Illuminated,” based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, telling a fictionalized history of a Jewish shtetl in Poland. He also starred in “Defiance” (2008), a World War II film about the Bielski partisans.
His mother, he said, always reminded him of his Jewishness, and that he was part of the chosen people, a concept he didn’t always understand.
Schreiber spoke about the duality in any dramatic character, also apparent in Ray Donovan, who embodies male stereotypes of courage as well as deep embarrassment about the sexual abuse he suffered as a child.
As an actor, said Schreiber, the big challenge is not to fall into the trap of narcissism.
“It helps when you have kids,” he said.
It could be, however, that drinking coffee imprinted with an image of yourself isn’t the best way to avoid excessive interest in oneself: