Jewish ‘Scandal’ Star Says He Remains True to Religious Ritual, Despite Scheduling, Dietary Conflicts
A star of the hit TV show “Scandal” told the community website Quora.com that, throughout his acting career, he has remained faithful to his Judaism, even when it has caused him to forfeit gigs.
Joshua Malina, who plays the character of David Rosen on the ABC political-thriller series, reminisced about his early days in Hollywood, when he had no agent and could only go to open-call auditions. At one of these — a try-out for a commercial — he said he waited on a line that was “maybe a city block long,” only to discover that the audition involved eating a slice of pizza on camera.
“This ordinarily wouldn’t have been a problem for me,” he said. “But it was Passover. Can’t eat leavened bread on Passover. Oy. I got to the front of the line and explained that as an actor, I could pretend to eat the slice of pizza, but as a Jew I could not actually consume it. The woman handing out the pizza was unmoved, explaining that if I didn’t want to eat the slice, I couldn’t audition. So I left. I figure it’s the closest I’ll ever get to channeling Sandy Koufax, who famously refused to pitch in the World Series on Yom Kippur.”
He described having a similar thing happen to him when he discovered that his first day of filming for the “The West Wing” — the Emmy-award-winning television series in which he starred from 2002 to 2006 — was set for the second day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
He said that though landing the role of Will Bailey on the NBC drama was a “huge deal;” that he had “needed the work badly;” and that he had been “pretty bummed” to encounter such a conflict at the outset, he nevertheless would not work on a high holiday. He recounted:
I took a deep breath and called one of the producers, thinking “I wonder if I’m about to lose my job before it even begins.” I told the producer about my situation, and I’ll never forget what she said:
“There’s a SECOND day of Rosh Hashanah??”
I explained that indeed there was. She laughed — she was Jewish, as I recall — and to my relief, told me she’d rearrange my schedule.
Malina said these sorts of situations have occurred more than once, but his employers have “always been extremely good about working out dates.”