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April 27, 2021 12:30 pm

‘It’s Like the Jewish Sopranos’: Cast and Crew of ‘Shtisel’ Talk Storylines, Tease Possible Season 4


avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

(From top left, clockwise) Hana Laslo, Brigit Grant, Dov Glickman, Alon Zingman, Reef Neeman, Zohar Strauss and Dikla Barkai discuss “Shtisel.” Photo: Screenshot.

The cast and crew of the hit Israeli series “Shtisel” talked about their characters, the future of the show and its worldwide popularity in a virtual discussion hosted by the Israeli Film and Television Festival and Jewish News.

Actors Reef Neeman, Hana Laslo, Zohar Strauss and Dov Glickman, together with director Alon Zingman and producer Dikla Barkai talked with Jewish News’ Brigit Grant about the series and at times referenced a fourth season, leaving fans hopeful for more to come after the March 25 Neflix premiere of “Shtisel” season 3.

Barkai spoke about joining “Shtisel” after reading the first season script and said she was drawn immediately to it. “Finding this kind of project is like finding love. It’s above explanation of when and why I loved the script. I just felt it so strong and I knew I wanted to do it,” she said.

The producer admitted she wasn’t sure “Shtisel” would continue past its first season. She explained, “we felt after the first season, the magic has happened. I thought it’s like this rare moment in life, you have this silly thought that it would never happen again. So between the first season and the second season I had a lot of doubt and maybe a little fear.”

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On how and when the show would possibly end, she said, “maybe ‘Shtisel’ is not a series with an end. It’s like life. It can go on and on and on.” Glickman agreed that it can go on for years to come – calling it “like the Jewish Sopranos,” a reference to HBO’s long-running series that spanned  86 episodes over six seasons.

Neeman, a newcomer to “Shtisel” who made her debut in season 3, auditioned for the role of Shira Levi via Zoom and talked about her character’s struggle with love on the show. Strauss also discussed his character’s development throughout the series — from not appearing in most of the first season to having a major role in season three. He later showed a picture of a fan who bought the fake beard he wears while in character as Lippe Weiss.

The cast and crew additionally talked their favorite “Shtisel” scenes, bringing in family members as extras and being recognized around the world. Glickman shared that Lebanese Muslim fans even approached him in Paris once after recognizing him from the series.

Glickman admitted that he cried watching certain scenes in past seasons, while Zingman said he got teary eyed while reading the show’s script, editing various scenes and filming the third season’s final scene, which he described as “so beautiful, emotional and touching.”

Talking about the difficulty of shooting during the COVID-19 pandemic, Zingman said the show was forced to postpone filming until July 2020. The summer heat in Israel added an extra layer of difficulty for the cast, who had to wear traditional ultra-Orthodox garments on camera and face masks off camera while on set. Some members of the show also contracted the coronavirus during the process. Zingman said, “It was really tough. It was really challenging.”

The discussion concluded with Barkai revealing that a traveling exhibition may be in the works to showcase the art featured in “Shtisel.”

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