For her role in Michael Bay’s new action flick, Pain & Gain, 24-year-old Bar Paly was given the sort of instructions that few Hollywood actors—let alone model-actors ever hear: “Eat whatever you want, as long as you eat a lot of it.” To play Sorina, an illegal immigrant and exotic dancer who gets mixed up with a group of extortionists, kidnapping Miami bodybuilders (Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Mackie, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), she not only had to start lifting, but also stick to a 5,000-calorie-a-day diet that included burgers, fries, and not-so-tasty supplements. “I had to drink this crazy protein shake called Russian Bear 5000,” says Paly, who starred in a TV show in Israel, where she was raised, before moving to Los Angeles. “That’s the only thing I found on the market that actually works for gaining weight. Man, is it disgusting.” Paly, who also popped up in Roman Coppola’s latest film, A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III, put on 20 pounds for the part—not that it shows in the skimpy dresses she sports in Pain & Gain. She has since slimmed back down to play a model trapped on a hijacked plane alongside Julianne Moore in the upcoming thriller Non-Stop. Paly doesn’t fret about being typecast for her looks—in fact, she sees it as a challenge. “Why can an actor be a waiter and still be considered a good actor, but an actor who happens to be a model cannot? Hopefully, I’ll prove people wrong.”
What drew you to Sabina, your character in Pain & Gain?
My character plays the love interest for Mark Wahlberg’s character. She’s an exotic dancer, a stripper. These three body builders—played by Anthony Mackie, Mark, and Dwayne Johnson—have this scheme to live their American dream fast. Sabina gets sucked into their operation. She starts believing that she works for the CIA, because that’s what one of the guys tells her. She’s very naive in a way.
What exactly is Sabina’s role in this scheme?
I get assigned to watch over Dwayne’s character, but things don’t go as planned. A lot of chaos and craziness ensues.
Now, the important question: Who’s got the better body, The Rock or Mark Wahlberg??
Are you kidding me? I don’t know how to answer that. They were all pumped. Me and Dwayne would arm wrestle, which was funny.
You arm wrestled The Rock?
The thing is that I had to gain weight for the role. I had to not only eat 5,000 calories a day, but I also started lifting weights. I started getting a little baby muscle on my arms, so I wanted to show it off.
What did your diet consist of for gaining the weight?
I had to basically drink this crazy protein shake called Russian Bear 5000. It’s 5,000 calories a day. It’s the only thing I found on the market that actually works for gaining weight. Man, is it disgusting. You can’t have more than one a day. You have to sip it throughout the day because it’s so thick. I was also taking these dance classes to learn how to dance for the role, so I was burning a lot of calories. So, I had a lot of protein shakes, a lot of peanut butter, a lot of burgers and fries. In the beginning, it was fun. I was like “Ok, I can eat whatever I want!” And then I was like, “No, no more.”
Some of Sabina’s dresses are pretty scanty. What’s the craziest thing you had to wear to play her?
Oh, I had a lot of fun stuff. I was pretty involved with the costume designer. The movie happens in Miami in the ’90s, so there’s a lot of that sort of fashion—you know, the Pam Anderson Baywatch cut. There was a lot of that going on.
Most people don’t realize that you started acting before you started modeling.
Since I was little, I always knew I wanted to be an actress. I was an only child, so I would invent these worlds for myself and act them out with my parents. I was always drawn to it. I loved movies. I went to an arts high school in Israel, and then I got a TV show in Israel. Through that, I started modeling and travelling. Then I came back to the conclusion that I wanted to act. So I moved to LA, and here I am, six years later, talking to you.
What was the Israeli TV show you starred in?
It was a drama. It wasn’t super amazing, but it definitely gave me a lot of experience in front of the camera. I played a high school student getting into different kinds of trouble with her best friend. It was kind of a “dramedy.”
Is there a difference between Israeli television and American television?
We get a lot of American TV shows in Israel. I think that’s how I learned a lot of my English. We get it with subtitles, so without even noticing you pick up English. They create some great original stuff as well. Homeland is based on an Israeli TV show. I haven’t watched it yet, but I heard it’s amazing.
What are your favorite shows?
I watch Modern Family and Game of Thrones. I try not to get into too much TV, because I have an addictive personality. I won’t leave my house.
In your upcoming film Non-Stop, you’re trapped on a plane that has been hijacked. How does your character fit into the mix?
Iris Marianne is a model flying to London. She’s involved with an older photographer, so I have my own secret love story going on. Then we have to deal with the plane being hijacked.
Do you ever worry about being typecast because of your modeling career?
I do sometimes, because people say, “Oh, she’s just a model.” It’s up to me now to work hard to prove that I’m not just that. I don’t know how it got out there on the web, but after my first movie it was like “Supermodel Bar Paly has switched…” I don’t think I was ever a supermodel. I was just working as a model to support myself.
So you’re not a supermodel?
I mean, I’ll take the title. It was a great opportunity. I was lucky enough to be making money that way. Why can an actress be a waitress and still be considered a good actress, but an actress who happens to be a model cannot? Hopefully, I’ll prove people wrong.
You were included in Bullett’s future issue. Where do you see the world in 30 years?
I guess the same as now, but hopefully with less violence. I’m hoping we’ll be more environmentally conscious. I predict that phones will get smaller, maybe injected into us. I don’t see this grim post-apocalyptic future. I see things more technologically advanced, clean, sterile. I’m not into a Mad Max kind of scenario.
Let’s say a supernova was heading our way, and you had to evacuate Earth, and you could bring only three of your possessions. What would you take?
If we had to evacuate Earth, I’d bring my dogs, Lulu and Mickey Boy. And a great pair of Jimmy Choo heels.
Photography by Thomas Giddings. Styling by Djuna Bel.