NO. 1: Pain & Gain and Non-Stop actress Bar Paly is an ace poker player who makes grown men crumble like old granola.
NO. 2: Her ideal date is shooting you in the face in paintball, a game she calls herself a “psycho” at.
NO. 3: She got her start in Israeli theater, as Shakespeare’s murderous Lady Macbeth (“Out, damned spot!”) at age 12.
Okay, we might have made that last one up. It turns out Paly did get her start in Shakespeare, though playing a non-speaking, dancing fairy in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. But that’s about where the trail of fairy dust ends for the Tel Aviv vixen whose name means literally, as she put it to us, “something wild and undomesticated.”
Born in the former U.S.S.R. but raised in Israel, Paly grew up on action flicks like The Terminator. “Shit’s blowing up!” she says. “There are robots! Yeah, quote that—‘Shit’s blowing up.’ Isn’t that what all action movies are about?”
Through modelling, she eventually found her way to the States, where she broke loose on the big screen as Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson’s squeeze in Pain & Gain, training hard and taking in up to 5,000 calories a day (thanks in part to high-protein shakes) that put muscle on her slender frame. Her Terminator-inspired workout, in fact, includes Arnold presses. “In my mind,” she says, “Arnold’s and my shoulders are absolutely the same.”
But, for Paly, the action isn’t confined solely to her movie roles. “I’m a psycho when it comes to paintball,” she tells us. “I mean, if you lose, you literally get shot—and it hurts! So the stakes are high.”
Speaking of which, Paly’s also quick to deal out some (surprisingly deep) advice for winning at poker—and, dare we say, in life. “Play your opponent, and not the cards you were dealt,” she says. “You can still take a pot down with a crappy starting hand like 7-2 if you understand how to create the illusion of strength.”
Paly’s acting chops, meanwhile, are anything but illusory. Since Pain & Gain, she’s landed roles in major films like last year’s terrorist thriller Non-Stop, with Liam Neeson, and sports flick Million Dollar Arm, opposite Jon Hamm. She’s also on track for several films slated for later this year, including Urge, in which a group of friends try a drug that lets their inhibitions run free. “I’m excited to see what comes out of this one,” Paly says.
So are we, Bar. So are we.