At the premiere of the Hasidic-themed movie Holy Rollers, a Sundance pick that premiered in New York on Monday, May 10, at the Sunshine Theater, Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen sped past reporters and into the dark theater as if they were late for mincha.
The twins were there to support Ashley’s boyfriend, Justin Bartha, an Irish Catholic who in the film plays a wild Hasidic man who’s a fake-breast connoisseur, a cocaine user and an ecstasy mole. “I lived above a Hasidic family in L.A. for a couple of years that was a similar tumultuous family,” Mr. Bartha told the Transom. “I always wanted to test that out.”
Co-star Jesse Eisenberg, meanwhile, prepared for the role by dressing in his best white shirt and black pants and heading over to 770, the world headquarters of Chabad Lubavitch. “The Chabad sect of the Hasidim are open to discussing—maybe not after this movie—but are open to discussing their lives with secular Jews,” Mr. Eisenberg said.
Filming in the more religious parts of Williamsburg and Borough Park had its challenges. The community wanted to make sure that they were being portrayed respectfully and correctly. But the plus side was that they were less familiar with some of the cast members’ other work. Distractions were minimal. “Hasidic kids aren’t running up to me with Hangover posters,” Mr. Bartha said.
Q-Tip, who plays an Ethiopian ecstasy manufacturer in the film, showed up to the screening looking more Williamsburg-lumberjack chic than falasha: While working on a new play called My Funny Valentine, in which he portrays Miles Davis, he has been relaxing at the Ace Hotel and working on his bowling game at the Brooklyn Bowl—he’s currently averaging a 140.
“I am going to observe Sabbath on Saturday,” he told a Daily News reporter. “So on Friday at sunset, I am going to turn off my TV and radio and I’m not going to do anything. And then when the sun sets on Saturday night, I am going to raise hell, like a good Jew.”
Actor Tony Shalhoub, Mr. Bartha’s cast mate in the Tony-nominated Lend Me a Tenor, showed up with his wife, the actor Brooke Adams, and said that there were no Hasids around when he was growing up in Green Bay.
Does he remember his first experiences with orthodox Jews when he came to New York in the ’80s?
“They weren’t selling me drugs, I can tell you that,” Mr. Shalhoub said.