Legendary Israeli filmmaker Assi Dayan, one of the most celebrated cultural icons to come out of the holy land with eight Israeli Oscars, or Ophir Awards, to his name, has passed away at the age of 68.
Publicly known for his self-admitted battle with substance abuse in recent years, Dayan was in pain early Thursday morning local time, when his home caregiver called paramedics, who upon arrival found him unconscious and were unable to resuscitate him.
The son of notorious Israeli military leader and politician Moshe Dayan, who died in 1979, Assi Dayan made his film acting debut in 1967’s He Walked Through the Fields and went on to star in such movies as 1969’s John Huston-directed drama A Walk with Love and Death, co-starring the director’s daughter Anjelica Huston, and 1977’s Academy Award Best Foreign Film nominee Operation Thunderbolt.
Dayan went on to focus on becoming a screenwriter-director and made 16 films, among them 1992’s Life According to Agfa, nominated for the Golden Bear at the 43rd Berlin International Film Festival (where he served as jury member in 1999) and 1997’s The 92 Minutes of Mr. Baum, recently adapted by Lionsgate Films and retitled The Angriest Man in Brooklyn, starring Robin Williams, in the lead role that Dayan originated, Mila Kunis and Peter Dinklage, slated for limited theatrical release on May 23.
Despite decline in fame and projects due to addiction, Dayan regained prominence in 2005 when he starred as the therapist in the critically acclaimed TV series Be’Tipul, adapted by HBO as In Treatment with Gabriel Byrne starring in Dayan’s original role. Dayan won the Israeli Academy of Television Award for best actor in a drama for both seasons.
Dayan is considered one the most iconic cultural figures in Israel, winning a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Israeli Film Academy in 2009. One of his last projects was an autobiographical documentary miniseries telling his life story Life as a Rumor.