This Alice takes one long trip down the psychological rabbit hole.
In “Losing Alice,” a new series premiering Friday (Jan. 22) on Apple TV+, Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer stars as a middle-aged director who, during a train ride, encounters Sophie (Lihi Kornowski), a 20-something fan and aspiring writer.
It’s a brief meeting that impacts both of their lives.
“I love the fact that Alice is someone who is not perfect by any means, yet not bad,” says Zurer, 51. “She’s not something we’ve seen before; she’s very complex in a way that feels new. She makes choices that we’ve seen men make but not necessarily women. And I really related to the idea of how you want to disappear inside of a project or a role — almost like erasing yourself in order to create.”
Alice is known for making daring and provocative films, but her star has fallen since she took a step back to become a mom with her actor husband David (Gal Toren).
As the series progresses, it becomes clear that Sophie idolizes Alice — and is working on the kind of gutsy screenplay that’s similar to Alice’s old projects. The two women become ensnared in a cat-and-mouse game of jealousy and obsession, as their relationship spirals between friendship, mutual creative fulfillment and hostility. Alice must also reckon with the difficult balance between her creative projects and her family.
“Some days [of filming] were very heavy and had thick energy to them, involving emotions like jealousy or fear or obsession or self-hatred, and some were fun and freeing,” says Zurer.
The actress, who is based in LA, splits her time on an equal number of Israeli, American and international projects. She’s best-known for big-screen movies like Stephen Spielberg’s “Munich,” 2013’s “Man of Steel,” the Israeli series “BeTipul” (the basis for HBO’s “In Treatment”), “Daredevil” and the hit Netflix stalker drama “You.”
“I go back and forth [between America and Israel] all the time,” she says. “I’ve worked in Israel since I left because it’s part of my identity in a way. It is my language and my audience. But I always try to choose projects that are meaningful for me, and so when I go back, I need a good reason to do so creatively.”
“Losing Alice” provided her with a reason — but it almost didn’t happen.
“This was definitely one of those lucky ones, because at first when I talked to [the show’s creator Sigal Avin] she wanted me to read the things she sent me on Skype,” says Zurer.
“And I knew I couldn’t pull it off for her, because there’s such depth to [the show] that you couldn’t really do it without an actor in the same space. I just didn’t see it happening, and so we let it be. But then I happened to be in Israel because my mom fell and broke her elbow, and when I flew in for a couple of days, Sigal contacted me.”
“It’s really the roles and the subject matter that moves me,” she says. “I try if I can to choose things where I see potential for them to have a meaningful impact.”