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June 14, 2021 11:57 am

Israeli Actress Shira Haas Speaks About Portraying Terminally Ill Teen in ‘Asia’ and New Golda Meir TV Series

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

“Asia” director Ruth Pribar, left, and actress Shira Haas. Photo: Screenshot.

Israeli actress Shira Haas discussed in two recent interviews the emotional toll of playing a terminally ill character in the film “Asia” and her upcoming collaboration with legendary singer Barbara Streisand on a TV series about former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir.

The Hebrew-language film “Asia,” which premiered in the US on June 11, centers on the relationship of a single mother named Asia (Alena Yiv), a nurse at a Jerusalem hospital, and her 17-year-old daughter Vika (Haas), whose suffers from Lou Gehrig’s Disease and finds her health rapidly deteriorating. The film earned Haas Israel’s Ophir Award for best supporting actress and when it premiered at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival it won three awards, including the best actress award for Haas.

“I basically couldn’t stop crying after reading it for the first time,” Haas told ET Canada on Sunday about the film’s script. “And I’m not an easy crier in real life, so it says a lot.”

The film’s director, Ruth Pribar, explained that the project was inspired by her older sister, who died 15 years ago, and how the tragedy “shaped my life, and the way I see life.”

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“It’s really [a story about] a mother and daughter that in a way are separating from one other, slowly but surely,” Pribar said, describing the movie’s storyline. Haas added, “It’s a story about some tough matters and subjects and yes, there’s illness and the subject of death as well. But for me it’s really about life, relationships and love.”

To prepare for her role as Vika, Haas told The Wrap on Friday that she studied people who faced terminal illness.

“I did a lot of physical research,” she continued. “At first, I met with a doctor and I met with a young girl, a very brave patient with the same disease as Vika, so I could know what it felt like. [And] I reacquainted myself with the five stages of grief [denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance]. This was the closest way to learn how to experience death.”

Haas will next star as Meir, Israel’s first and only female prime minister, in an American TV series executive produced by Streisand and based on the book by Francine Klagsbrun, “Lioness: Golda Meir and the Nation of Israel.”

“She’s an amazing, difficult, interesting, complex and way ahead of her time kind of woman,” Haas told ET Canada about Israel’s legendary leader. “And I’m very exciting and honored that Barbara Streisand is part of it, which is a dream basically. We had a phone call and it was probably the most exciting phone call I’ve had. It was very very exciting to talk to her.”

Haas also updated fans about the progress of the show, saying, “It’s in the making. It’s being written, probably as we speak, so it will take time until we start filming it.”

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