18 Things to Know About Jewish Actor Eli Roth

"The Idol" star is also a successful horror movie director.

For all the Jewish actors in the new HBO series “The Idol” (Hari Nef, Troye Sivan and Dan Levy, to name a few), the Jewish representation onscreen is shaky at best. But you know what’s not shaky? The Jewishness of Eli Roth, the actor who plays Andrew Finkelstein!

Here are 18 things to know about Eli Roth.

1. Eli was born on April 18, 1972 in Newton, Massachusetts to a Jewish family.

2. His first and middle names are both Hebrew! Eli means “My God,” and his middle name Raphael means “Healing of God.”

3. He has two brothers, Gabriel and Adam.

4. He’s of Ashkenazi descent, with his ancestors coming from Austria, Hungary, Russia and Poland.

5. Eli’s not just an actor, he’s also a director! At 8 years old he began shooting movies on a Super 8 camera after watching the horror movie “Alien.”

6. This is what he looked like around the time he became a bar mitzvah:

7. He graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 1993, where he studied film.

8. This is what he looked like as a junior!

9. Eli co-wrote the movie “Cabin Fever” with his NYU roommate Randy Pearlstein, which then became his directorial debut. The film premiered in 2002, catapulting Roth into splatter movie stardom.

Here’s the trailer:

10. Eli’s inspiration for “Cabin Fever” is fairly gruesome.

“The initial idea for ‘Cabin Fever’ came while I was working on a horse farm in Iceland when I was 19 years old. I had been cleaning out a barn and got a skin infection on my face,” Eli said in an interview, adding, “I woke up in the middle of the night scratching my cheek, thinking I had a mosquito bite. I looked down at my hand and saw chunks of skin.”


11. In 2004, Eli received high praise from fellow director Quentin Tarantino. He called “Cabin Fever” “the best new American film.”

12. Since then, Eli has written, directed and produced numerous more horror movies. This includes “Hostel,” “The Green Inferno” and “Knock Knock.”

13. As an actor, he’s probably best known for playing Donny “The Bear Jew” Donowitz in Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds.”

Listen to him describe how he prepared for his most infamous scene:

14. In 2014, he married Chilean actress Lorenza Izzo. The couple divorced in 2019.

15. He’s a fan of fellow Jew Lil Dicky‘s show “Dave.”

16. Want to know more about cannibalism? Eli’s got you.

17. You can catch him for a split-second in this trailer for “The Idol”:

18. His newest movie “Thanksgiving” (starring Addison Rae and Patrick Dempsey) is slated to premiere in November 2023.

Evelyn Frick

Evelyn Frick (she/they) is a writer and associate editor at Hey Alma. She graduated from Vassar College in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. In her spare time, she's a comedian and contributor for Reductress and The Onion.

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