The Arty Semite

Eli Roth on 'The Man With the Iron Fists'

By Curt Schleier

Eli Roth, 40, is a Hollywood multi-hyphenate. He’s part of a group of filmmakers known as the “Splat Pack” because of the violent and bloody nature of their movies. He’s an actor, most notably playing Donny “the bear Jew” Donowitz in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds.” He’s also a screenwriter and director of “Cabin Fever” and the two “Hostel” movies.

Chan Kam Chuen
Russell Crowe, RZA and Eli Roth on the set of ‘The Man With the Iron Fists.’

Roth’s latest is “The Man With the Iron Fists,” a kung-fu action adventure that stars Russell Crowe and hip-hop artist RZA, with whom Roth wrote the screenplay. Roth spoke to The Arty Semite about his horror-themed bar mitzvah, how his first big break came from a Seder and being Tarantino’s “Jewish fact checker.”

Curt Schleier: Can you tell us a little about your life growing up?

Eli Roth: I grew up in Newton, Mass., which was one of the bar mitzvah hubs of the East Coast. In the seventh grade, it was non-stop bar mitzvahs and double bar mitzvahs. I remember [preparing for mine] my rabbi asked me what I wanted to do when I grow up. I told him I wanted to be a motion picture producer or a director. He said you need to do one or the other. Why do you want to do both? I looked at the rabbi and said it’s the only way to retain control of your cut.

And the rabbi mentioned that at your bar mitzvah?

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