Israeli Actress Shira Haas Says Battling Cancer at Age 3 Helped Her Connect to Terminally-Ill Character in ‘Asia’
Israeli actress Shira Haas was able to get into the mindset of a character suffering from a degenerative motor disease in the new film “Asia” because of her own personal experience battling cancer at a young age, she told Israel’s Channel 12 in an interview published on Friday.
The Hebrew-language movie, which premiered in the US on June 11 and hit Israeli theaters on Friday, revolves around the relationship of a single mother named Asia, played by Alena Yiv, and Haas’ character Vika, a terminally-ill 17-year-old whose health is quickly deteriorating.
Haas, 26, was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 3, and recovered three years later, Channel 12 said. She told the publication that reading the script for “Asia” reminded her of what she went through at a toddler.
“When I first read the script I remember actually crying and feeling her story without knowing what it was,” she said. “I felt that only someone who experienced a loss or dealt with something like this could change their lives and understand the insights and write such a script. I probably connected to it from my history and personal place.”
“When something shaky happens to you there is a possibility of either coming out completely shattered or completely polished,” she added.
The film’s director, Ruth Pribar, wrote the script following her older sister’s death 15 years ago. “It changed me,” she said about the tragedy. “I can not say that I made the film from it, but yes, from the totality of the experiences of breaking up with someone who was an integral part of my life.”
The film earned Haas Israel’s Ophir Award for best supporting actress, and won three awards after a premiere at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival, including the best actress award for the Israeli actress.
Haas also spoke to Channel 12 about her new-found stardom and worldwide celebrity status following her success in the Hebrew-language show “Shtisel” and the Netflix film “Unorthodox.” She will star as Israel’s former prime minister Golda Meir in an upcoming American television mini-series that is executive produced by singer Barbara Streisand.
Being internationally renowned has not changed her day-to-day life much, Haas said. She explained, “It’s a combination of everything, and also nothing in it. At one of the ceremonies we won, there was a very big celebration — and half an hour later, at 6:00 in the morning, I remember myself washing dishes.”