An Actor's Journey: from Israel to Hollywood.
Ido Samuel grew up on dreams of coming to America. It was not easy for the Israeli actor to leave his family and comfort behind for a new life, but when he finally seized the opportunity he nailed it. Best known for playing Yossi in the 2012 Sony Classics film, Fill the Void, Ido loves the way that acting allows him to express himself. With two films on the burner - a lead in Introducing Jodea and the indie film The Spark with Abigail Breslin - Ido is certainly following his bliss.
We caught up with Ido to talk about his transition to "hollywood" and what's next...
RP: What do you love most about acting?
IS: It lets me use and express everything that happens in my personal life. As horrible or amazing as it seems, in the world of make believe, the building of a character allows me to use my own life experiences and blend different lives that I otherwise would never have experienced. I played an Orthodox Jew with a long beard, to a person with split personality, to a kidnapped soldier, to a warrior knight.
RP: Did you receive any sort of training?
IS: I have studied acting for over five years. Two years in an intense 6 days a week 10 hours a day drama school and then a little over three years in different classes and workshops (improve, acting for film, theater etc). And when I got to LA, I started learning the Meisner technic at Joanne Baron/D.W Brown Studio.
RP: Was it hard for you to pick up your life and move from Israel to the United States?
IS: It is something that I always dreamed of ever since I was a child. Starting here was not easy because I did not know a lot of people and did not have a car, so I felt a little lost. But luckily I had a few films that were showing in the U.S (Fill the Void and the Divide) so I got recognized by people specially from the Jewish world and was invited to their houses for dinners and the Jewish holidays, so I would not feel alone. The hardest thing is still being so far from my family and I try to talk to them almost every day but it is not the same as being with them and being able to hug them. Luckily I was blessed with a very supportive family, who supports my journey and encourage me to go for my dreams.
RP: How would you say the Israeli film industry differs from the US film industry?
IS: There are a lot of talented filmmakers in Israel. A lot of films and TV shows made originally in Israel are really successful around the world. I think the biggest difference is in the budget the productions have. It is so small compared to the Hollywood ones but I think that is what makes Israeli filmmakers focus on the story itself and the characters. It is hard for an actor in Israel to live just out of acting, so most of them have a second job. I was a waiter for a long time (not a very good one, I have to admit). But when you do act, the entire production feels like a family and you know they are all in it for the right reasons.
RP: What types of projects are you attracted to and hoping for the most here in the U.S.?
IS: I love good stories with complicated challenging characters. I want to tell stories that have not been told before in the world of cinema. My dream directors to work with here are Tim Burton, Quentin Tarantino, Xavier Dolan, Denis Villeneuve, Jaques Audiard and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.
RP: What has been your favorite project to work on thus far and why?
IS: I have to say it was in a play I was in called “The Pilowman” by Martin McDonagh. I played the role of Michal who is "slow to get things" following his years of abuse at the hands of his parents. He is responsible for the killing of a number children. He looks up to his brother Katurian and thinks he is an excellent writer. He confesses that he kills the kids because Katurian's stories "told him to." It is by far far the most complicated and deep character I ever had to play. It took real work to analyze and understand him but also physically I had to change my “normal” self and adopt new physicalities that are far from me and nuances that show other people. I needed to understand why and where they came from, so I spent time in real mental hospitals watching and talking to the patients and hearing their stories. I feel I learned a lot as an actor from that experience and by the publics reactions from watching me play it and by their amazing feedback. I feel that all the hard work was worth it and allowed me to let go and live as the character on stage.
RP: You were cast in an upcoming indie with Abigail Breslin, can you tell us a little about that?
IS: Actually, I cannot tell you a lot about the project yet. But it is a beautiful and important story and I am honored to be a part of.
RP: We look forward to seeing it! What's the best piece of advice you have received in this business?
IS: Do not take things personally and have a thick skin. I am a very sensitive and emotional person, which may be great for acting, but not so much for the life of an actor. I learned to look at it from a different perspective and know that all I can do is focus on the hard work and always inspire to improve my craft.
RP: What is your best piece of advice for aspiring performers?
IS: Your wings already exist, all you have to do is fly.
Follow Ido on twitter @SamuelidodoIdo and check out his acting reel here.