Asaf Dayan: Actor and director whose tumultuous personal life did not detract from a prolific and successful career


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The Independent Online

The actor and director Assi Dayan was a prominent figure in the cultural life of Israel who was known for both his trailblazing films and his troubled personal life. A scion to one of Israel’s most prominent families, he was the youngest son of the famed military chief and defence minister Moshe Dayan. His sister Yael was also a former politician.

Despite his lineage, Dayan was something of a countercultural hero. He often lashed out at the state and angrily confronted his father over his military views, his marital infidelities and his reputation for plundering the sites of antiquities. He acted in 50 films and television programmes as well as directing 16 films.

He played the lead role in the acclaimed television drama Betipul, about a psychotherapist and his sessions both with his patients and with his own therapist. It was adapted into the HBO series In Treatment, with Gabriel Byrne playing Dayan’s role.

Dayan also won numerous awards for his film-making prowess. In 1998 he received a lifetime achievement award at the Jerusalem International Film Festival, and he was a popular newspaper columnist who did not shy away from sharing confessions about his own demons.

Dayan, who had four children from three marriages, had a tumultuous personal life. He was open about his bouts of drug and alcohol abuse and a series of attempted suicides. “Today we lost one of our greatest artists, not just in film but in all culture,” the actress Gila Almagor said. “Assi was a guiding light, a multi-faceted genius.”


Asaf Dayan, actor, director and producer: born Nahalal, Mandatory Palestine 23 November 1945; married three times (four children); died Tel Aviv 1 May 2014.