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Why Segev From Hit & Run Looks So Familiar

If you're one of the many viewers who found themselves sucked in by the twisting, turning, and fast-paced narrative at play in Netflix's new action-mystery series, "Hit & Run," you may have noticed that its lead protagonist, Segev Azulay, has one of those faces you just know you've seen before. That's because the actor behind the mercenary-turned-tour guide-turned avenging, super-sleuthing husband is none other than international action star and television writer Lior Raz

In "Hit & Run," Raz plays the devoted husband of an American professional dancer named Danielle Wexler (Kaelen Ohm). Alas, their genuine love for one another notwithstanding, it seems both parties have been keeping secrets from one another, several of which reveal themselves in the series' first few episodes. As it turns out, Segev's wife is actually a CIA operative named Sophie, and her untimely death (via an intentional hit and run) is likely tied to her double life. Fortunately, Segev is the perfect "loving father and friendly tour guide" to bring his wife's killers to justice, since he's (also secretly) a former mercenary for the Israel Defense Force. 

Longtime fans of the actor will find his role in the series entirely in line with some of his best-known work prior to its release, while viewers who are just getting to know Raz will likely recognize him for his depictions of decidedly different characters.

Lior Raz starred alongside Joaquin Phoenix in Mary Magdalene

In 2018, after finding success with a handful of recurring roles in acclaimed Israeli television series, Lior Raz landed the role of the Magdala Community Leader in director Garth Davis' "Mary Magdalene." The film starred Oscar winner Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus and Rooney Mara ("Carol," "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo") in the title role, and was applauded for its fresh approach to the depiction of its subject. As writer Nick Allen explained in his review of the film for RogerEbert.com, the false interpretation of Mary Magdalene as a sex worker — as suggested in 591 by Pope Gregory— "wasn't fully addressed by the Vatican until 2016, when they restored Mary back to her place as one of the most important people in Jesus' circle."

Written by Helen Edmundson and Philippa Goslett ("The Nevers"), "Mary Magdalene" explored what's thought to be Mary's actual history, as well as the narrative of Jesus' adult life via the perspective of the women in it. It was a near revolutionary take on the story, considering that — as Vox writer Alissa Wilkinson accurately pointed out — women in the Bible "are frequently reduced secondary characters ...They're figures that need healing or appear in a crowd, but they're not a big part of the story."

The film not only impressed many critics, but garnered quite a bit of press for its twist on the story, and helped make Raz's Hollywood debut one worthy of attention. That same year, Raz would star in another historically-based film, albeit one whose source events took place far more recently. 

Lior Raz helped bring a compelling true story to life in Operation Finale

In August of 2018, U.S. moviegoers got another taste of the former undercover operative and security agent-turned movie star in director Chris Weitz's "Operation Finale." The film told the real-life story of the location and capture of Adolf Eichmann by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. Eichmann — a high-level Nazi who played a major role in devising, organizing, and implementing elements of Adolf Hitler's Final Solution — had escaped to Argentina following World War II. In 1960-61, he was finally located and captured by Peter Zvi Malkin (via The New York Times), portrayed in the film by Oscar Isaac. 

"Operation Finale" starred Academy Award winner and "Shang-Chi" star Ben Kingsley as Eichmann, and tasked Lior Raz with the role of Isser Harel — the director of Mossad who oversaw the war criminal's capture and transport. Of the actual former IDF agent's performance, The New Yorker's Richard Brody wrote, "Raz brings a fierce intelligence and a controlled fury to the role of Harel." 

Both the film itself and his character in it would prove a far cry from Raz's next Hollywood endeavor, the miserable reception of which stood in stark contrast to that of the relatively acclaimed "Operation Finale."

Lior Raz was yet another victim of Michael Bay's moviemaking

His success with "Mary Magdalene" and "Operation Finale" notwithstanding, if there's one role in particular for which U.S. audiences will most recognize Raz, it's that of the unabashedly cruel dictator, totalitarian, and all-around "one-dimensional bad guy" Rovach Alimov in director Michael Bay's Netflix film "6 Underground." In the film, an equally one-dimensional billionaire-turned-savior who faked his own death and goes only by the name of "1" (Ryan Reynolds), puts together a team of similarly presumed-dead vigilantes/mercenaries who band together to unseat Alimov and bring him to justice for his crimes against his own people. Though the film was almost universally panned by critics — not least of all for its clumsy handling of vaguely fictional Middle Eastern politics (via rogerebert.com) — it exposed Raz to an even wider audience, though perhaps not in the way he might have hoped. 

"It's not clever or original to slate Michael Bay's films," read the subhead of GQ writer Thomas Barrie's scathing review of the film, "but the crushingly bad '6 Underground' leaves no other choice." Notably, the film reunited Raz with his "Operation Finale" co-star Mélanie Laurent, but aside from making his face even more recognizable to U.S. audiences, it didn't do nearly as much to further his career as the Israeli production he co-wrote himself, and for which he's best known internationally.

Lior Raz brought real-life experience to the hit series Fauda

Prior to "Hit & Run" (and following being hit by Michael Bay), Raz was perhaps best known for portraying combat unit leader Doron Kavillio in the hit international television series "Fauda" ("Chaos"), which he not only starred in but co-created alongside writer and producer Avi Issacharoff. (Issacharoff also co-wrote and produced "Hit & Run.") Netflix picked up the show in 2016 — a year after its debut in Israel — and it became an instant hit that was frequently lauded for its nuanced and realistic portrayals of the subject matter.

As The New York Times' Debra Kamin explained, "Globally, much of [Fauda's] success has been attributed to its sense of realism. Raz and Issacharoff both served in the special forces during their mandatory service in the Israeli military, and much of the drama that makes 'Fauda' so riveting is based on events they had experienced." By 2019, The Times of Israel was citing "Fauda" as one of 12 Israeli TV shows to binge-watch, describing it as being "about secret agents, targeted killings, suicide bombings and so much more," but adding that "it explores these topics with depth and sensitivity."

Despite differing central plots, "Hit & Run" could well be described as a bigger-budget, spiritual cousin of "Fauda," particularly considering the real-life inspiration apparent in both, and the "Mandatory Unretirement" narrative of both their protagonists. And yet, oddly enough, Raz confessed to Seth Meyers in a recent interview that when he and Issacharoff were writing the character of Segev, they "didn't know that [Raz] would be the actor." Apparently, that call was made by Netflix — a decision no doubt inspired by his acclaimed performance in "Fauda," and the fact that, at this point in his career, Lior Raz is fast becoming a household name.