Asaf “Assi” Dayan ( 23 November 1945 – 1 May 2014) was an Israeli film director, actor, screenwriter and producer.
Assi Dayan is the youngest son of Israeli general and minister of defence Moshe Dayan and peace activist Ruth Dayan (née Schwartz).
He has two siblings: politician and author Yael Dayan, born 1939, and sculptor Ehud (Udi) Dayan, born 1942.
After military service and studying philosophy and English literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he embarked on a career as film actor, which eventually also lead to directing.
He has been married three times and has four children: New York gallery owner Amalia Dayan and Avner Dayan with first wife Aharona Melkind; writer Lior Dayan with second wife, actress Caroline Langford, daughter of Barry Langford, and Assia Neumann Dayan after a short affair with Augusta Neumann.
In 1999, his third wife, ceramic artist Vered Tandler Dayan, made a documentary film about him, Living, Period.
In March 2009, Dayan was indicted on suspicion of drug use and beating his girlfriend. In the wake of an earlier conviction for possession of drugs, he received a suspended sentence and 200 hours of community work as part of a plea bargain.
Dayan admitted at the time that he was in possession of cocaine for personal use.
In November 2009, Dayan suffered a massive heart attack and underwent angioplasty at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov hospital.
In 1967, Dayan established himself as a film actor and Israeli icon in He Walked Through the Fields, Yossi Milo’s adaptation of Moshe Shamir’s novel and play by that name.
That year, he appeared in Micha Shagrir’s Scouting Patrol, about elite fighters on a mission to capture the commander of a fedayeen squad.
In 1969 Dayan co-starred in the American movie A Walk with Love and Death, set in medieval France and directed by John Huston, in which he plays alongside Huston’s daughter, Angelica.
He portrayed Giora Geter, owner of a Tel Aviv pub whose life falls apart, in Eitan Green’s Into the Night.
In 1984, Dayan had a supporting role as a prisoner in Uri Barbash’s Beyond the Walls, described as an important milestone in Israeli political cinema.
Other acting credits include Operation Thunderbolt, about the Israeli raid in Entebbe, nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Dayan is the deputy of Yoni Netanyahu, played by Yehoram Gaon.
Dayan played the leading role of psychologist Reuven Dagan in the TV drama series Betipul, which ran for two seasons on Israeli TV (2005 and 2008).
The series was later adapted for the US market by HBO, which called it In Treatment and had Gabriel Byrne in the lead role.
By 2008 he had acted in some 50 films and TV series episodes.
From 1973 until his death in 2014, Dayan directed 16 films.
In 1976 he directed the film Giv’at Halfon Eina Ona, a comedy about a group of military reservists in the Sinai. This film is considered by frequent surveys to be the ‘most Israeli’ film of all time.
In 1992, he wrote and directed Life According to Agfa, a film portraying life in a Tel-Aviv pub. The film is a very harsh critique of Israeli society at the time and was nominated for the Golden Bear at the 43rd Berlin International Film Festival and won an Honourable Mention.
In 1999, he was a member of the jury at the 49th Berlin International Film Festival.
Dayan won the Israeli Academy Award as Best Actor for Mr. Baum.
In 1998, he received a lifetime achievement award at the Jerusalem International Film Festival. His role in Time of Favor was acclaimed by Israeli critics as his best screen role of his career.