‘Shtisel’: Why ‘Giti Weiss’ Actor Neta Riskin Wasn’t Eager to Join the Netflix Hit Soap

Netflix’s sleeper hit Shtisel is now in its third season. The Israeli soap opera, that apparently most of its cast thought would go nowhere, is an international success.

One of the show’s stars is Neta Riskin, who plays Giti Weiss on the series. Here’s why she was at first determined not to join the cast.

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The logo for U.S. online streaming giant Netflix | Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Riskin has played Giti Weiss on ‘Shtisel’ since 2013

It’s safe to say that the Israeli actor is astonished at the success of the gentle drama about the ultra-conservative Jewish Shtisel family. Set in Jerusalem, Riskin’s Giti is the long-suffering but tough mother to several children with her husband, the at-times errant Lipa, played by Zohar Shtrauss.

“There are no erotic scenes, people don’t even touch each other and the characters look awful, even though for instance Michael Aloni, who plays my brother Akiva, is a very handsome actor,” Riskin told Vertigo Magazine. “But people all over the world loved the drama series. It took us off-guard. We never thought that Shtisel would be a success.”

Riskin knew the show was a hit when she began to get “messages from all over the world: India, Brazil, Argentina, France, it’s crazy. During my recent stay in Berlin, people stopped me on the street to take selfies with me.”

Neta Riskin was Natalie Portman’s Hebrew coach

For the 2015 film A Tale of Love and Darkness, which starred – and was directed by – actor Natalie Portman, Riskin was recruited to help the actor learn to speak with an authentic Israeli accent. The two practiced daily every aspect of the Hebrew language.

“The problem with Natalie is that there were Israeli Russian, Polish, Arabic accents that were legitimate accents, [but] there was only one accent that wouldn’t work and it was American,” Riskin told The Times of Israel. “We decided to leave something that sounded foreign, but you don’t know where it comes from.”

RELATED: ‘Shtisel’ Star Michael Aloni Reveals How He Prepared For His Role as Akiva on the Hit Netflix Series: ‘I Spied’

Riskin did not care for ‘Shtisel’ at first

At the time the actor was approached to take on the role of Giti Weiss, she didn’t want it initially.

“When I was offered to audition for a role in Shtisel and I read that it was about an ultra-Orthodox family in Jerusalem, I said to myself, ‘I don’t want to do it,'” Riskin said.

Filming in Jerusalem in the role of someone from a segment of society that she was so unfamiliar with didn’t draw her to the part.

“The Orthodox communities and the secular communities in Israel don’t know each other,” she explained. “They don’t meet, they don’t talk, they hardly know anything about each other and they don’t like each other. Therefore, I didn’t want to play in a series about Orthodox Jews. I didn’t like that world.”

Once Riskin read the script, she was captivated and eager to be part of it. The show’s fans are captivated as well and eagerly await a season 4 of the series.