Celebrity jews

Jewish thespians

Timothée Chalamet

Still playing in theaters is the hit sci-fi film “Interstellar.” Casey Affleck co-stars as Tom, son of the movie’s star character. Playing Tom as a 15-year-old is Timothée Chalamet, 18. He also played Finn Walden in the second season of “Homeland” and may co-star in an upcoming “X Men” movie. His father is French and his mother is an American Jew. She’s the sister of big-time TV director Rodman Flender, 52. Last year, Chalamet briefly dated Madonna’s 17-year-old daughter, Lourdes.

Yael Grobglas

The CW series “Jane the Virgin” has an implausible premise, but the charming title character (played by Gina Rodriguez) makes the show work. It’s emerged as a critical and popular hit since its mid-October premiere. The premise: Jane, a “virg,” gets impregnated at her doctor’s office with sperm that had been stored for Rafael, her boss, before cancer treatments made him sterile. The sperm was meant for Petra, Rafael’s evil wife. Playing Petra is Israeli actress Yael Grobglas, who says she is in her “mid-20s.” Raised in Ra’anana and often described as a “blonde bombshell,” she starred in several Israeli TV shows. She told the New York Times: “It’s been a blast playing such a mischievous character because she’s so unlike me.”


Catch them again

If you get AT&T cable TV, be advised there’s a free preview of all premium channels, including on-demand libraries of these channels, from Nov. 27 to 30.  During this preview, you can binge-view series including HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” and Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie.”

The next-to-last season of “Boardwalk” in 2013-14 featured the handsome Ben Rosenfield, 22, as Willie Thompson, the smart but troubled nephew of Nucky, the star character played by Steve Buscemi. More recently, Rosenfield played a large supporting role in an untitled Woody Allen movie that will be released in 2015.

Meanwhile, “Nurse Jackie,” which will begin its seventh and final season in April, has featured Dominic Fumusa, 45, as Jackie’s hunky husband, Kevin, since it began. Fumusa has been married to stage actress Ilana Levine, 50, since 2002 and they have two kids.  A film director friend who knows Fumusa told me the actor converted to Judaism “after a long period of study.” My web check revealed that Fumusa briefly mentioned his conversion to a blogger and that he and his wife are active in their local Jewish federation.

‘Star of David’ Mike Nichols

Mike Nichols

Director Mike Nichols, the Berlin-born son of German Jewish refugees, died Nov. 19 at 83. He was married four times and none of his wives, including his widow, journalist Diane Sawyer, were Jewish. He has three grown children: Daisy, with his first wife, and Jenny and Max with his third wife. In 2006, he was interviewed by Abigail Pogrebin for her book “Stars of David,” in which famous Jews talked about being Jewish. Nichols told Pogrebin that he connected to his Jewish heritage but not to Judaism or any other religion.

His three children, he said, were not raised in any faith. Nonetheless, all ultimately came to identify as Jewish. Nichols told Pogrebin that his daughter Jenny once said to him, “In the end you pick Jewish because it is harder.”

When asked what he thought about his daughter’s statement, Nichols replied: “Proud. Impressed. I think it was also accurate. If you get a choice, you do pick it because it’s harder. You don’t like yourself if you pick the other one and always feel like you’re full of sh-t.”

Max Nichols is a leading music business executive. In 2001, he married Jewish journalist Rachel Alexander in a Jewish ceremony in Venice, Italy. Alexander, 40, was then a sportswriter for the Washington Post. She took her husband’s name and now is a prominent CNN TV and Turner Sports sports journalist whose name is now Rachel Nichols.

Columnist  Nate Bloom, an Oaklander, can be reached at [email protected]

Nate Bloom

Nate Bloom writes the "Celebrity Jews" column for J.