Itzik Cohen (actor)

Itzhak "Itzik" Cohen (Hebrew: איציק כהן; born 9 September 1968) is an Israeli actor, filmmaker, and television producer. He is best known for portraying Captain Gabi Ayub in the political thriller television series Fauda.

Itzik Cohen
Itzik Cohen (cropped).jpg
Cohen in 2018
Itzhak Cohen

(1968-09-09) 9 September 1968 (age 53)
OccupationActor, filmmaker, and television producer
Years active1993–present
Known forFauda television series
Michal Kirshenbaum
(m. 1998; div. 2005)

After serving in the Israel Defense Forces, he received his BA with honors in 1993 from the Department of Theater at Tel Aviv University. In 1996, together with a few of his classmates, he founded the drag band The Daughters of Pesia. The band helped bring drag into the Israeli mainstream, making appearances in the Uri Pasteur-directed musical All is Legend (alongside Michal Yannai), and the educational television program Return of the Sheriff.

Acting careerEdit


From 1993-1994, as a member of the Atim Ensemble, Cohen played the priest in Romeo and Juliet, adapted and directed by Rina Yerushalmi. He worked with Yerushalmi again in 1995, on her play, Va-Yomer, Va-Yelech (Bible Project, Part I).

Cohen moved to the Cameri Theater in 2001, where he played both the titular Rabbi Kamea and Grandmother Sa’ida in Rabbi Kamea, the Israeli adaptation of Tartuffe by Moliere. In 2004, he gave, according to Haaretz, "the performance of a lifetime"[1] as Ezra Sapir in Rami Danon and Amnon Levy's Father's Braid. Cohen switched to musicals in 2006, when he played Roger De Bris in The Producers. In 2008, he performed in two plays by celebrated Israeli director Moshe Captain: as Lazer Wolf in the musical Fiddler on the Roof, and as Sallah Shabati in the theatrical remake of Sallah Shabati. In 2010, he starred as Pantelon in the Israeli adaptation of Carlo Goldoni's The Servant of Two Masters, directed by Moni Moshonov. In 2012, he played Moshiko Babayof, the narrator in the musical Kazablan.

Cohen continued working in musicals in 2017, and made a return to drag, when he starred as Edna Turnblad in the Israeli adaptation of Hairspray.[2] That same year, he starred in Ayad Akhtar’s play The Who & The What at the Haifa Theatre, as Afzal, a father desperately struggling to ensure his daughter marries within the faith. For his performance, he was nominated for Actor in a Leading Role at the Israeli Theater Prize Awards.

Film and televisionEdit

In 2002, Cohen created, along with Jonathan Cognac, the Israeli television series Johnny for Channel 2. He appeared in the series as well, playing the titular Johnny's Iraqi mother.[3]

In 2004, he starred in the teen drama Big Head as Elhanan, the school principal. After its cancellation in 2009, the show was brought back for a special sixth season in 2017, and Cohen returned to revive his role.

In 2009, Cohen starred in the film A Matter of Size as Herzl, an overweight man who decides to join a sumo wrestling team.[4] For his performance, he won the Visitor's Booth in Israel award for Best Actor, and was nominated for the Ophir Award for Actor in a Leading Role.[5] The following year, he finished in third place on the fifth season of the Israeli version of Dancing with the Stars.

Cohen had his international breakout role in 2015, on the political thriller television series Fauda. He plays Captain Gabi Ayub, the top interrogator in Israel's Shin Bet unit. The show has received international critical acclaim, with The New York Times voting it the best international show of 2017.[6]

Personal lifeEdit

Cohen was born in Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel, to a Jewish family.

He served in the Israel Defense Forces as a soldier.

In 1998 Cohen married Michal Kirschenbaum, and they have a daughter. In 2005 he got divorced. In 2012 he and his ex-wife gave birth to a boy. In an interview in 2002 he said that he is gay. In 2013 he had a Bariatric surgery and lost 35 kg of his weight.



Year Title Role Notes
2001 Minutes of Glory Dedi
2003 Sima Vaknin is a Witch Avi Vanunu
2006 Charlotte's Web Ike the Horse Hebrew dub
2009 A Matter of Size Herzl Nominated for Ophir Award: Actor in a Leading Role
2010 The Guest The Guest
2016 The Women's Balcony Aaron
2017 Maktub Elkaslasi
2017 The Son of Bigfoot Wallace Bear Hebrew dub


Year Title Role Notes
1997 Shuli's Boy Niso TV film
2002 Johnny Doris Creator
2004-2007; 2017 Big Head Elhanan Berdugo
2010 Dancing with the Stars Himself 3rd place; Israeli version
2012 New York Toka Abharmi
2015-2016 Galis Spector
2015–present Fauda Captain Gabi Ayub
2020 The Masked Singer (Israel) Dragon 4th Place
2021 Oslo Yossi Beilin TV film


  1. ^ "איציק כהן משתכנז". 18 March 2007 – via Haaretz.
  2. ^ "איציק כהן חוזר לגלם אישה בהיירספריי ומספר מה הוא חושב על דראג". 20 June 2017.
  3. ^ "NRG מעריב".
  4. ^ גינזבורג, חגית (15 July 2009). "עולם גדול מופלא" – via Ynet.
  5. ^ "הוכרזו המועמדויות לפרסי אופיר". 28 July 2009 – via Haaretz.
  6. ^ "The Best TV Shows of 2017".