Go Away With … Ori Pfeffer

Dig - Season 1

By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Content Agency
March 10, 2015

On the new USA Network drama “Dig,” Ori Pfeffer portrays Golan Cohen, a tough detective with the Israeli National Police. One of the things that the Israeli actor enjoys the most about the series is that it films in many different locations.

“There’s one scene that explains it best,” says Pfeffer, 39. “The walk to the apartment was shot in Jerusalem, inside the apartment was shot in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and exiting the apartment was then shot in Dubrovnik, Croatia. I believe it’s hard to beat a scene that was shot in three different continents! It’s pretty crazy and fun at the same time.”

Pfeffer — who is married and has two children — splits his time between Tel Aviv and Hollywood. Fans may keep up with him on Instagram and on Twitter.

Q. What was your first impression of America?

A. My father remarried an American from Pittsburgh when I was about 8, so we used to come to the States at least once a year. Back then in 1984, the world wasn’t quite the global village it is now, so I was always stuffing myself with M-and-M’s, McDonald’s and the other child traps we didn’t have in Israel back then. The sheer size of America blew me away. Remember, it takes eight hours to drive through Israel top to bottom. I planned to go cross-country to see it all, and just over a decade later I did.

Q. What are the challenges of traveling with your children?

A. For me, the biggest challenge is the actual flights. It is a weird time and space warp that consists of zero sleep time, but thank God for iPads and “Frozen.” They keep my little girls busy! Other than that, we love traveling and exploring the world together as a family and I think it’s a great gift for the kids to broaden their horizons so early in the game of life.

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?

A. When I travel, I like going to new exciting places I’ve never been. My last trip was through South America, down the Amazon, through Rio to Patagonia and back up to the Galapagos Islands where I swam over a white tip shark after dancing with a green anaconda in the rain forest. But when I have to give it up and just relax, Tulum, Mexico, is probably my favorite place to kick back, have a beer and enjoy life in neutral.

Q. To someone who was going to South America or Tulum for the first time, what would you recommend that they do during their visit?

A. There is so much to do in Patagonia. I would horseback ride with the locals and in the Amazon I would jump in to swim with the grey dolphins. In Rio, I would dance until I crashed and in Tulum I would go to the adjacent Akumal Beach and jump in the water and swim next to the huge sea turtles. If you’re not too claustrophobic, go into the abyss in the mysterious cenotes.

Q. What untapped destination should people know about?

A. I’m planning a trip to Antarctica, so I’ll have to tell you when I come back.

Q. What was the first trip you took as a child?

A. The most memorable trip I had as a child was the safari in Kenya. Being there opened my heart and mind in ways that to this day affect me; the majesty of the animal kingdom with the towering giraffes, elephants, the kingly lions — all of it. The different culture, different tribes, it stirred my imagination and captivated my heart. I went back there twice as an adult, and had the pleasure of shooting there, as well. I love Africa!

Q. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from your travels?

A. It always boils down to the same thing — be kind, generous, respectful and, above all, whatever you do always say yes, because with that you give the adventure a lead to take you to where you’ve never been before.

Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?

A. One of my favorite places in the world is at the north tip of Israel. It’s in a little magical place called Liman. There is Maskit, a place lush with greens, a stable, and outdoor pool and a heated one in winter. Yay! You can ride a bicycle through the banana fields to the untouched rocky Achziv beach. Then go on a beautiful hike on Rosh HaNikra, a nature reserve, and stand by the border fence and look out to the neighboring Lebanon, over the Mediterranean Sea. It’s where I have a lot of peace and quiet, I can relax with my wife, and the kids are in heaven. For sure it’s one of the best kept secrets. Oops, I just made it not so kept.

Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?

A. I haven’t explored Asia as much as I want to. I have a great desire to go to Mongolia, Vietnam, India … and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’m not planning to ever stop traveling, and that is another perk of acting in film and TV. If you’re lucky, you get to shoot in exciting places you’ve never been before.

Q. Do you pick up foreign languages fairly easily?

A. My mom is Australian and my father is Israeli, so English and Hebrew are first languages to me. I try to pick up languages where I go, but I do have to confess I’m not very successful. Though I think I can get away with some French. I remember all the lyrics of the original “Hakuna Matata” song in Swahili that I learned in Kenya as a boy

Q. Have you traveled to a place that stood out so much that you felt compelled to incorporate it into your work?

A. I truly believe that wherever you travel and whoever you meet leaves an imprint of some sorts in you, and sometimes we draw on it involuntarily. But at other times, it’s fun to dive in and bring out those experiences and use them in a scene, or a character, so yeah for sure i do!

Q. What is your guilty pleasure when you’re on the road?

A. My favorite thing to do on the road is not to make a plan and take it as it goes. It makes it very hard for people traveling with me, but to me it’s the most exciting way to be on the move. I play music really loud, but really really loud, and sing at the top of my lungs.

Q. What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?

A. I try to read about the culture and plan it accordingly. I keep away from pictures, so that when I get to see something it’d be fresh and new to me. Of course some places you just can’t get away from seeing before, so I go and try to see it from a different angle. A couple of months ago I took the family to the Grand Canyon, and I felt like seeing it from the inside as well. So I woke up to catch the sunrise and went for a run down the canyon. The shifting light and shapes were nothing short of amazing. Basically make it interesting to you and the people traveling with you.

Q. What are your favorite hotels?

A. Well that depends. I’ve been to the Explora in Patagonia, Chile and I think I can say without a doubt that it has the most remarkable views I’ve ever seen. The whole place is designed seamlessly with nature. In London the Claridge’s makes you feel a part of history. In Rome I loved going to a home that was turned into a B&B with a kitchen where we could cook the local food we bought in the farmers market. So it all depends, when I claimed Mt. Kilimanjaro three years ago, I slept in a tent for 10 days as we climbed up. I sat fit the room to the adventure.

Q. What are your favorite cities?

A. For a roller coaster ride of fun and culture I would have to say New York City. Barcelona is a perfect mix of European class and Mediterranean flair. Tel Aviv is probably my favorite combo of beach, party, food and young artists.

© 2015 JAE-HA KIM


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