In ‘Hit & Run,’ the ‘Fauda’ Creators Move the Action to New York

In ‘Hit & Run,’ the ‘Fauda’ Creators Move the Action to New York
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In ‘Hit & Run,’ the ‘Fauda’ Creators Move the Action to New York

In ‘Hit & Run,’ the ‘Fauda’ Creators Move the Action to New York

One afternoon in 2015, shortly after the start of their gripping terrorist drama “Fauda” in Israel, Avi Issacharoff and Lior Raz met for lunch in Tel Aviv.

They were discussing a recent hit-and-run accident on the news. Then they started to joke: what if the accident was not an accident, but part of a deeper plot? What if family secrets, and even international intrigues, had been at stake?

By the time they asked for the check, the idea for “Hit & Run”, a new Netflix thriller premiering on Friday, was born. But they did not know that this second show would be the successor of a phenomenon.

“Fauda,” which plunged into the gritty and morally murky world of an elite military unit, was picked up by Netflix in 2016 and became a real international hit. In Israel, he was revolutionary to offer a more nuanced description of the Palestinians targeted by his team of undercover agents, led by Raz’s character, Doron Kavillio. (Although some Palestinian writers have criticized these performances and the series in general.)

Globally, much of its success has been attributed to its sense of realism. Raz and Issacharoff both served in the Special Forces during their compulsory service in the IDF, and much of the drama that makes “Fauda” so fascinating is based on events they experienced.

“Hit & Run,” which moves much of the action to New York City, required more invention. But the themes of loyalty, deception, and ambiguous allegiances of a double agent come into play again. This time around, Raz and Issacharoff applied the same creative formula, but adapted it for a global audience.

“Avi and I were inspired by things that are happening in the world,” said Raz, who plays Segev Azulai, a man whose comfortable life in Tel Aviv implodes when his American wife is killed in a mysterious hit-and-run. “It’s a show about trust – trust between a husband and wife, and also trust between countries.”

A tense thriller, the nine-part series moves from Tel Aviv to the back streets of New York, with dialogue mostly in English – a first for Raz. He and Issacharoff created “Hit & Run” with writer-producers Dawn Prestwich and Nicole Yorkin, who recently partnered up with “The Killing”. The cast includes Sanaa Lathan (“The Affair”), Gregg Henry (“Scandal”), Gal Toren (“Losing Alice”) and Moran Rosenblatt (“Fauda”).

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For the millions of viewers who have starved themselves from three seasons of “Fauda” on Netflix, the parallels between Raz’s characters on the two series will be striking. Again we start with Raz settled into a calm and happy family life until, in the opening episode, he is drawn into bloodshed and violence, pulled out of his romance by retributions. persistent from an ineluctable past.

“Lior and I know there is some kind of mechanism, an invisible button, where when you push it someone else comes out of you,” Issacharoff said. “And this is our Segev.”

And once again, Raz infused the show with emotional artifacts from his past. In “Fauda,” he drew on his experiences with post-traumatic stress disorder to bring Doron to life. In “Hit & Run” even the names of his characters, including that of Segev’s murdered wife, are loaded with meaning.

Segev traps the series in grief after the loss of Danielle Azulai (Kaelen Ohm), an American dancer whose story becomes more and more murky with each episode. Raz – who lost a serious girlfriend named Iris Azulai in a Palestinian terror attack at the age of 19 – has plunged headfirst into his own painful memories to inhabit history.

“I didn’t talk about Iris for a long time, until Avi and I started writing,” Raz said. “It started with ‘Fauda’ and now with ‘Hit & Run’ it has gone further.”

Making their debut on the world stage, rather than the island world of Israeli television, put pressure on the duo’s second act, Issacharoff said. But most of them came from within.

“Everyone had high expectations of us after ‘Fauda’,” he said. “We knew we couldn’t come back with a less than excellent product.

They wrote down what they know again, drawing on their expertise in espionage and counterintelligence. But this time around, they’ve zoomed in beyond Israel and the Palestinian Territories to unravel global geopolitical secrets.

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As Segev crosses New York, leaving a trail of blood in his search for the truth about his wife’s death, “Hit & Run” explores themes and questions about citizenship and loyalty, and the dark corners of democratic alliances. . Issacharoff, a seasoned Israeli journalist whose beat is Arab affairs, said that like “Fauda,” the new series includes twists and subplots drawn from actual events.

“There are very sensitive diplomatic and political issues that no one usually talks about, but they are there,” he said.

As Raz again plays a retired warrior drawn back into action – this time a former mercenary rather than a former military officer – there are some differences in tone. Segev is gentler and older, and he’s not motivated by the desire for revenge, but to prevent further harm from coming to his family.

“It’s closer to who Lior really is,” said Prestwich. “We loved ‘Fauda’, but we also knew that people like us might not come to an action show if they didn’t feel like there was something else there. and a different world to explore. “

Prestwich and Yorkin served as guides for Raz and Issacharoff as the two navigated the professional and cultural differences of Hollywood television. Yorkin said she and Prestwich also brought a broader emotional palette to the action-packed story.

“It’s a story that is ultimately about love, and maybe even redemption,” Yorkin said. “We thought it would attract a much larger audience. “

In the Writers’ Room, Prestwich and Yorkin also made a key suggestion: The character of Naomi Hicks, a scoop-hungry Jewish reporter who becomes Segev’s anchor in New York City, should be played by a black woman. Yorkin took it a step further by connecting with an organization of black Jews through her synagogue in Los Angeles, and the team told the story of Naomi as a professional woman who has been a double stranger her entire life. .

“Part of her motivation is that she really tries to get the accolades that we all seek, and that don’t necessarily go to people of color,” said Lathan, who plays Naomi. “It was really fascinating that she was a black Jew, which is a reality for a lot of people around the world that we don’t see a lot on screen.”

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Director Mike Barker, who set the visual tone for the pilot, used a distinctive color palette to highlight the two worlds Segev lives in: a colorful, nature-rich world in Tel Aviv, and a stark, almost sepia-like darkness in New York.

“I cleared the sky and borrowed a lot from 1970s movies, using vintage lenses,” he said of his New York shoots. When the production moved to Tel Aviv, he was struck by the color and brightness of the city and shifted gears. “I was thinking about the orange plastic beach chairs and the blue sun, but when I got there I started to understand how green it was, so we changed the palette,” he said. he declares.

Barker added that he was impressed with Raz’s willingness to devote himself fully to the role. “There was nothing easy for him on this show,” Barker said. “You have to remember that ‘Fauda’ is all in Hebrew, and this one is in Hebrew and English. So he had a huge challenge.

To reach Segev’s emotional abyss, Barker encouraged Raz, a father of four, to tap into his deep sense of family. “There is a wall on his character ‘Fauda’, which he crushes completely with a hammer in this series,” said Barker.

For Raz, who opened up about his own military trauma in “Fauda,” the filming of “Hit & Run” brought another chance to deal with his past demons.

“This guy is in mourning for the whole show. Holding that as an actor for a year of filming wasn’t easy, but it was a healing process for me from my own loss, ”he said. “As Segev and Doron, it’s actually me – it’s Lior – you see in different situations.”

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