Lior Ashkenazi was born to Sephardi Jewish immigrants from Turkey who moved to Israel in 1964. Growing up in the Neveh Yehoshua neighborhood in Ramat Gan, his father, Shmuel, worked as a printer, while his mother, Victoria, took care of the home. His parents spoke Ladino at home and it was Lior’s first language. At age 16, he moved to Kibbutz Regavim. After serving as a paratrooper in the Israel Defense Forces, Lior appeared in many theatrical productions before transitioning to film in 2001 with his breakthrough starring role in Late Marriage, an Israeli film directed by Dover Kosashvilli. The film was very well-received and went on to be Israel’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 74th Academy Awards.
Lior then starred in Rutenberg, Walk on Water, Be Tipul, The Bubble, Hello Goodbye, and Ultimatum. In 2010, Lior was cast in Rabies, Israel’s first-ever horror film. The following year, Lior starred in his first Joseph Cedar film, Footnote. The film was a resounding success and was submitted as Israel’s entry into the 84th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.
In 2013, Lior starred in another horror flick, Big Bad Wolves, a film that Quentin Tarantino called the “Best Film of the Year.” Lior’s latest film, Norman, directed by Joseph Cedar, screened at the Toronto International Film Festival and Telluride. In the film, Lior plays Micha Eshel, the Israeli Prime Minister, in a leading role opposite Richard Gere.