‘Losing Alice’s Ayelet Zurer on the Filming of the Erotically Charged Psychological Thriller
In the limited series, the finale of which streams on Apple TV+ February 26, Zurer (You, Daredevil, Angels & Demons) disappears into the role of a 48-year-old director whose (chance?) meeting on a train with a young and alluring screenwriter named Sophie (Lihi Kornowski) starts a series of events that upends lives.
Alice sees Sophie’s movie script, titled Room 209, as an opportunity to reignite her career, one that got sidelined when she had her children — despite the fact her husband (Gal Toren) has been signed up as the film’s lead. The impact of the heavy, intimate material intensifies when Sophie takes on the other romantic role. Factor in Alice’s torn feelings about working while her young kids are at home, a creepy, no-boundaries mother-in-law, and an obsession with uncovering Sophie’s mysterious past, and her journey is, for the viewer, satisfyingly complex and relatable.
Zurer spoke with TV Insider about working on the Sigal Avin project, how much of herself she sees in Alice, and if the finale is truly the end of the story.
Were you surprised that this Israeli show resonated with an American audience?
Ayelet Zurer: The reviews were even better than in Israel, where people questioned what they were watching at first. This was accepted so massively it was shocking and amazing. It seems to have a universal theme, even though it’s very stylized.
How much of yourself do you see in Alice?
She’s not me at all, but she definitely has sides to her journey that I totally understand — being a wife, mother, but at the same time, someone who is a creator and creates in order to feel a sense of living.
What initially struck you about the role?
When I received the script the one thing I noticed is Alice lies a lot. The first lie happens on the train when she meets Sophie. Alice is telling her she’s writing a screenplay, how everything is great, how she’s into her family and teaching. Underneath things aren’t right. She has a huge writer’s block. She’s not happy with what she has. Also, Alice is attracted to Sophie, but also can’t stand her. She’s suspicious of her the more the story comes to life. There are a lot of aspects of Alice I had to find and explore.
The relationships between Alice, Sophie and David are so intimate. How did that develop on set?
We had chemistry right off the bat during rehearsals, but the process was very different with each. With David, I had to jump in to create a life as a couple that has been together for years and has three daughters. It’s funny because we shot all the inside bedroom scenes the first week. Gal is married to a director and has three daughters, and I really enjoyed working with him because he brings a sense of truth to what he does, a sense of realism.
With Lihi, the opposite happened. Even though we had rehearsals and were friendly, once we started filming it became clear to me I had to actually step back. I could be courteous, but I couldn’t have a friendship with her. So the intimacy was unspoken.
The penultimate episode sees Alice directing an erotic love scene between Sophie and David. Once it’s completed Alice is shown alone on the building’s terrace laughing. Has she reached some kind of breaking point?
Sigal wanted to express with Alice that there’s a price to anything you do in this field, particularly if you’re a woman. In Alice’s case she jumps into this process and slowly develops tunnel vision; she can’t see anything but the film. I think what happens here is she pushes everyone to the extreme, not even considering what the outcome could be. The scene of her laughing, it’s from a sense of accomplishment and relief. It’s also pain and an understanding that while it’s something that she dreamed of having is happening, at the same time there’s loss. It’s winning the Oscar while having a divorce. It’s climbing Everest and losing your hands. Two things at the same time.
The material leaves the door open for a Season 2. Is this something you see happening?
I feel the story is done. But it’s not quite the end in the sense there is the feeling that this story can happen again and probably will happen again. There is this sense of repetitive behavior. People can relate to the question of how much would you be willing to sacrifice to fulfill your dreams? It’s universal.
Interestingly enough, you’re recurring on the upcoming Season 3 of You as a couples therapist named Dr. Chandra.
The projects were a year apart and whole other role. It’s also a very different style of writing and performing. There is a sense of dark humor that I really enjoyed [with You]. There is comedy but not quite. It’s interesting material to work with. You was very freeing for me.
Losing Alice streams on Apple TV+